Pittsburgh – Today, City and County officials presented the Community Strategic Plan to close the digital divide in Allegheny County by 2030.
The plan was conceived by the Pittsburgh Digital Equity Coalition consisting of local City and County Departments, some local businesses and nonprofits who recognized the need to ensure everyone in the region have affordable access to the digital world.
Due to the pandemic, the City and County recognized the gaps within the communities and neighborhoods where many residents were badly affected by their inability or lack of having digital access.
“The COVID-19 pandemic showed all of us the importance of being able to connect in today’s digital world. For many, it was absolutely imperative for education, healthcare, employment, and more,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Ensuring adequate internet for all, particularly in those communities that are unserved and underserved with broadband, is of vital importance so that those who call this county home can continue to grow and thrive with equitable access to the many opportunities in this region.”
Along with County Executive Fitzgerald, Mayor Ed Gainey saw how important it was to close the great divide and how collaboration and partnerships can make it possible for all residents to thrive in the digital era.
“We know older residents, minorities, disabled individuals as well as those in the low-income bracket are falling through the cracks within the digital gap. We have identified the needs and have created a way to close that gap but, the plan will not work without collaboration and partnerships to implement it. We can’t become a truly thriving community without everyone succeeding,” said Mayor Ed Gainey.
One organization already implementing the plan is the United Way with their 2-1-1 Digital Navigator Network. This project is already working and is playing an integral part to make some of the plan’s key elements a reality.
It works by connecting residents to a Digital Navigator via their 24/7 helpline who can assist residents with signing-up for low-cost internet, access to a device, or digital literacy and skills training.
“By working together, we can become the hub of a thriving and technologically advanced region where education, economic mobility, healthcare and quality of life are supported and promoted for all residents,” said Heidi Norman, Department of Innovation and Performance Director.
Closing the digital divide is an important goal that will focus on residents being able to have accessible and affordable broadhead, providing digital skills training and education along with getting residents affordable computing devices and technical support by 2030.
The Pittsburgh Digital Equity Coalition Community Strategic Plan can be seen via this link: https://apps.pittsburghpa.gov/redtail/images/23475_PDEC_Community_Strategic_Plan_2024.pdf.