Fourteen percent of NYS residents can’t log on at home. ILR and Community Tech NY are launching the New York State Digital Equity Portal in partnership with the State Department of Education, the New York State Library and The John R. Oishei Foundation.
The portal is an interactive, online data mapping tool for communities and individuals seeking data to inform broadband adoption and improve digital equity for millions of New York state residents without wired internet access.“Advancing digital equity: ILR School develops tool to help NYS communities” by Mary Catt, Cornell Chronicle: https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2021/12/advancing-digital-equity-ilr-school-develops-tool-help-nys-communities
Digital Equity Portal Launches in New York State
First-of-its-Kind Portal Offers Interactive Snapshot of Digital Equity Data
Working in partnership with Community Tech NY (CTNY) and Cornell University’s New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR), the New York State Education Department (NYSED), the New York State Library (NYSL) and The John R. Oishei Foundation (JROF) today launched the New York State (NYS) Digital Equity Portal. The NYS Digital Equity Portal is an interactive, online data mapping tool for communities across the state seeking data on New Yorkers’ ability to access the internet to advance digital equity.
“Digital inequity is a complex and multi-faceted problem,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. “The Board of Regents and I understand that closing digital equity gaps will require the coordination, cooperation, and the intentional capacity-building of the many organizations supporting digital inclusion across New York.”
“We are pleased that the State Education Department and the State Library are part of this effort to make digital equity data open and accessible to all New Yorkers,” said State Education Commissioner Dr. Betty A. Rosa. “Our hope is that it will guide the decision-making and planning of coalitions, organizations, and funders.”
“The NYS Digital Equity Portal is a groundbreaking step to advance digital equity by supporting community leaders to understand the scope of the digital divide,” said Houman Saberi, Co-Director at Community Tech NY (CTNY). “CTNY and our partners are excited to partner with digital equity practitioners to use the portal to develop holistic solutions that advance digital justice.”
The development of the portal draws on existing digital equity work, including the NYSED’s “Achieving Digital Equity in New York State: An Outline for Collaborative Change”, and feedback from digital equity advocates across the state to create a resource that is clear, comprehensive, and user-friendly.
Recognizing that access to broadband in and of itself is a limited measure of the digital divide, the NYS Digital Equity Portal allows users to generate interactive snapshots of connectivity, population/demographics, speed and cost of broadband, and other digital equity resources from selected geographies across NYS. Users can analyze the data based on geographies such as congressional districts, zip code, census tract, and New York public library system. The project team plans to develop more data layers through continued research and collaboration with digital equity advocates in New York State.
The NYS Digital Equity Portal reveals barriers to internet access and this data will help communities develop digital equity strategies based on an understanding of digital equity needs, gaps, and priorities.
The NYS Digital Equity Portal is an expansion of the Western New York Digital Divide portal, an online resource created with the support of The John R. Oishei Foundation in late 2020/early 2021. The NYS Digital Equity Portal is supported in part with federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds allocated to the New York State Library by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
The NYS Digital Equity Portal can be accessed through Cornell’s website. Technical development of the NYS Digital Equity Portal is led by Dr. Russell Weaver, Director of Research, ILR Buffalo Co-Lab.
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New York Community Trust grants CTNY $250,000 for digital equity
In its recent newsletter “Building Our Region Back Better,” published on May 9, 2021, the New York Community Trust (NYCT) featured Community Tech NY as one of its latest grantees. The grantmaking foundation announced its focus towards a more vital and equitable New York City by supporting organizations that help close the digital divide. Community Tech NY is the recipient of a $250,000 grant. The organization will apply the funds to working with its partners — three low-income NYC communities of color — “as they promote digital equity and build internet tools and services as long-term, community-centered solutions to the digital divide.”
Building Our Region Back Better
“The Bronx is Buffering: New Connectors” by Harry Parker
This article describes the coalition of activists and nonprofits including CTNY who are putting pressure on service providers and creating local broadband solutions.
With the pandemic and remote learning challenges receding, the Digital Equity Coalition is now working with Community Tech NY and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance to determine next steps. Some goals include making The Bronx’s broadband needs known beyond NYC policymakers, and working with similar groups in other urban areas to share knowledge and strength.
Community Tech NY has worked with groups in Detroit, Red Hook and Kingston, N.Y., and with THE POINT CDC in Hunts Point to improvise community-based internet solutions. The inclusion alliance shares information among similar digital equity efforts across the country and advocates for greater support with policymakers.Parker, Harry. “The Bronx is Buffering.” in New Connectors. NYCity News Service. http://thebronxisbuffering.nycitynewsservice.com/connectors/
White House: Vice President Holds Listening Session on High Speed Internet Featuring Digital Stewardship and Community Ownership
We also work to increase internet adoption through a digital stewardship program which prepares residents in our neighborhoods [of Detroit and Highland Park] to operate, manage, and own their own internet. All of our 18 employees come from the communities they serve and are trained in community organizing and the technology necessary to maintain a network.Reverend Joan Ross, Operating Director, North End Woodward Community Coalition (She is featured from 9:00 – 17:37 time marks)
For more on Reverend Ross, Detroit’s North End, and the Equitable Internet Initiative, please see the Digital Equity Lab’s report “Growing Digital Equity: The Origins and Promise of Community Internet in Detroit.”
Through the Equitable Internet Initiative (EII), the Detroit Community Technology Project (DCTP) supports North End Woodward Community Coalition (NEWCC). CTNY co-director Monique Tate led the North End EII network in Detroit from ~2016-2021.
CTNY and DCTP are in partnership through the Community Technology Collective. Visit the Community Technology Collective site for more on Digital Stewardship.
The Hill: To build lasting digital equity, look to communities
Take Hunts Point in the South Bronx, where a local community development corporation called THE POINT recruited young people to build their own free wireless Wi-Fi network to connect learners and residents. Hunts Point Free WiFi is managed by people who live here and supported by local businesses. To a community built on a vulnerable peninsula hit hard by COVID-19, connectivity is more than just hooking up to the internet. It’s about building self-reliance, generating wealth and sustaining a platform to build a community-driven vision of the future.Byrum, Greta. “To build lasting digital equity, look to communities,” The Hill. 29 March 2021.