Regional Coalition Earns Recognition for Work to Close Equity Gaps in Technology
April 07, 2023

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Digital Equity Coalition (PDEC) has been named the Tech Community Leader of the Year by Pittsburgh.

PDEC is a coalition of anchor institutions, nonprofits, and civic and governmental leadership from throughout the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. It has a stated goal of developing a five-year plan to address digital inequities across four key metrics:

  • Access to high-quality, affordable broadband;
  • Access to technology;
  • Internet skills, knowledge, and literacy;
  • Accessible technical support.

The PDEC will deliver its recommendations for achieving these four strategic outcomes to City and County officials before June 2023. This date was selected as it coincides with the announcement of state awards by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). These awards will be dispersed to counties across Pennsylvania for use in developing broadband infrastructure and digital equity initiatives, including skills training and device access. The PDEC collaborative recommendations will weigh in on a broader formulation for how to allocate those funds state by state and how the PA Broadband Authority, in turn, releases them to individual counties across the Commonwealth.

“We are fortunate to have so many partners who have come together to work on the strategy to address the digital divide in our community. This work is critically important to ensure that all in our region have access to broadband and technology that will allow them to avail themselves of the opportunities that exist in the county and city,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Thank you to Pittsburgh for recognizing this work by PDEC on a larger stage. We appreciate and acknowledge the importance of their work, but to have others validate and support that work is extremely rewarding.”

“For far too long we have known the truth about the digital divide – that our seniors and our Black and Brown children have been left out of the rapid shift toward an online, connected digital world,” said Mayor Ed Gainey. “Investments like the Pittsburgh Digital Equity Coalition, partnerships like this, build a thriving city not just for those with existing access, but for our neighbors most in need. Thank you to Pittsburgh for uplifting this important and vital work by the PDEC. The recognition as “Tech Community Leader of the Year” further validates the importance of ending the digital divide in our region.”

Heidi Norman, Director of Innovation & Performance for the City of Pittsburgh, and PDEC member, believes that the PDEC's work could stand as a model for other coalitions across the state. “We recognize that the issues surrounding lack of access to high-speed internet, or lack of a modern device in the home, or the skills to know how to use one is a fundamental barrier for people who want to participate in our digital age. But the problem is larger than any government organization can solve. Having a true coalition assembled, as we have here in Allegheny County, with nonprofits, the library systems, our great universities, and so many others, is how we can solve the vast problems that exist because of digital inequities.”

The NTIA plans to distribute state allocations from its $42.5 billion fund by June 2023. These federal funds are from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed by President Biden in November 2021. A core element of the bill is to ensure every American has access to reliable high-speed internet.