A gathering of more than 40 community members resolute on co-designing a network dedicated to resource sharing and collaboration around digital equity took place on October 25, 2018. The event, hosted by Seattle Information Technology’s Community Technology team, brought together participants from a wide range of organizations and institutions dedicated to increasing digital equity across our region.
Participants included representatives from Seattle Public Schools, University of Washington Information School, Seattle Public Library, Seattle Goodwill, Casa Latina, Somali Family Safety Task Force, Literacy Source, Chinese Information and Service Center, and CenturyLink, among others.
Through facilitated discussions, the group drafted a common purpose statement for the work ahead: to develop relationships, strategies, and resources to ensure equitable access to digital technologies, opportunities, skills, and knowledge to enable communities to thrive.
A common theme throughout the morning’s conversations was the understanding that as we move into the future, digital equity is essential for all individuals – young people, adults, and seniors – to thrive in our changing world. Access to the internet and the ability to navigate digital technologies are essential when accessing education, seeking and applying for jobs, and maintaining basic connections to community.
Toward the end of the morning, the group identified their collective list of the most pressing issues related to digital equity. These include increasing the accessibility of affordable internet and devices, giving parents adequate internet access and skills necessary to support the learning opportunities of their children attending Seattle Public Schools, and directing attention to communities most vulnerable to barriers like income, language, education level, or involvement in the justice system.
Participants left the gathering energized to connect with each other, and eager to build collaboration across organizations with different approaches to addressing digital equity. This gathering was a first step in the effort to convene a wide range of stakeholders. Similar meetings in the future will solidify action steps and opportunities for collaboration across sectors and communities.
As a city at the forefront of technological advancement, Seattle risks an increasing divide between the hyper-connected and those who lack internet access and digital skills due to systemic barriers. Service providers, government, public school systems, and private companies all have a stake in ensuring that no one is left behind as technology moves full-steam ahead.