Pittsburgh Digital Equity Coalition Announces Open Community Feedback Meetings
May 05, 2023

Coalition launches updated website as it works on plan to close the digital divide in the next 5 years

The Pittsburgh Digital Equity Coalition (PDEC) will initiate a series of public community feedback meetings with the first session happening on May 4, 2023. Details will be made available about how the public can participate on the new PDEC website, which launched today. This first session will focus on the Affordable Connectivity Program, a federal subsidy enacted in the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act of 2021.

ACTION: Notice of open meetings.

DATES: The community feedback meetings will be held at various dates and times from May – July 2023. Information to be posted at https://pittsburghpa.gov/innovation-performance/pdec

ADDRESSES: The session will be held virtually as well as in person. Information to be posted at https://pittsburghpa.gov/innovation-performance/pdec

The PDEC has identified four key action areas as critical to developing practical guidelines that address the digital gap in the City of Pittsburgh and throughout Allegheny County. The four key action areas are:

  • Robust Broadband Access at an Affordable Price
  • Computing Devices that Meet Users’ Needs
  • Training of Digital Skills and Literacy to Accomplish Users’ Goals
  • Widely Available and Accessible Technical Support

In their final report, due this summer, PDEC will provide specific recommendations to address each of the four areas. Broader recommendations currently include:

  • Make use of existing private industry and nonprofit relationships to fast-track public communications, extend program outreach, and increase infrastructure assets that help assess digital gaps, match resources with need, and allocate funding.
  • Use existing resources such as the national nonprofit Education Superhighway’s free “Affordable Connectivity Program Certification” course to help build a local corps of Digital Navigators. This Digital Navigator Corps will help residents learn about and apply for existing federal benefits that can be applied toward personal devices and monthly internet costs.
  • Develop public-private partnerships with area corporations, computer refurbishers, and social services organizations to create a “2nd Life” supply chain that can rehabilitate and repurpose gently used computers for use in households that lack devices.
  • Incentivize the development of training and support programs within regional anchor institutions through a mix of federal and state funding packages, workforce development incentives, and space-sharing benefits.

Currently, each key action area has a committee group assigned to it. Committee members draw their ideas from sector experience, professional relationships with communities, and public service experience. Each committee is asked to listen and collect input from the public based on the belief that representing all voices is a necessary starting point for all digital equity work.

PDEC was announced in September 2022 by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and City of Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey. It is a working group of large and small organizations in Allegheny County that endeavor to promote digital equity using their intimate knowledge of the region's digital needs across a variety of communities. The coalition will produce and implement a 5-year plan to address the digital divide in Allegheny County by the end of 2027.