Devices, digital skills are the other two legs of the stool
The Massachusetts Senate’s decision to highlight broadband access as one of its top priorities for federal stimulus funds is a critical step toward addressing digital inequity in the state (“State Senate sets plan postvirus: Panel outlines ideas to use $5b in US funds,’’ Business, Oct. 6). While expanding broadband access is critical — in urban as well as rural areas — lawmakers also need to pair those investments with more funds for digital devices and accessible digital skills training. Without all three legs of the stool — Internet, devices, and digital skills — deep digital inequity will continue to persist for too many people in Massachusetts.
COVID-19 exposed longstanding disparities in digital access across the Commonwealth. During the pandemic, thousands of individuals and families without access to computers, the Internet, or requisite digital skills struggled to participate in online learning, connect with loved ones, file for unemployment, access vaccines, and more.
Federal relief funding offers the opportunity to create an equitable recovery and build resilience in the face of future crises, but when it comes to digital equity, those efforts must include funding to provide devices and expand community-based digital training programs, as well as investments in broadband.
Director of advocacy
Tech Goes Home
Tech Goes Home is a nonprofit working to expand digital equity.
Too many are being left behind
When President Biden traveled around the country last week, he highlighted the need to bring broadband to every corner of America, and I agree. The jobs of the future, such as those in science, technology, engineering, and math, need students with digital skills. It is estimated that the United States will need 1 million more STEM professionals over the next decade, and right now, too many people are being left behind. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would bring at least $100 million to Massachusetts to help expand broadband Internet coverage to rural areas. We need to close the digital divide, and this bill helps make that possible.
American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts