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This week on ‘What’s New in Digital Capital’ – our weekly look at government digital capital and broadband news – we have a range of interesting material which you can access via the links below:

STATES CONTINUE Broadband Listening Tours

States continue to host listening events where residents have the opportunity to learn about ongoing government efforts to help connect the last few Americans to high-speed Internet at home.

While a number of states have already announced, and in some cases held, such measures, more continue to join the list. Pennsylvania recently announced it will host listening tours coordinated by Brandon Carson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority.

“In today’s world, access to high-speed Internet is a necessity,” Carson said in a statement. “Pennsylvanians need broadband access for school, work and public safety, and it’s critical that we close the digital divide in the community. The more accurate we can make the FCC’s map, the more we ensure a fair distribution of federal funding for broadband expansion.”


These sessions come on the heels of the FCC’s latest map update, which essentially allows people living in certain areas to relay exactly what the Internet situation is like for them. This comes after the FCC relied for years on maps that used data self-reported by Internet service providers. As Pennsylvania noted in its hearing statement, the state’s broadband allocations will be based on the new maps, meaning it’s in residents’ best interests to accurately communicate Internet availability, price and speed in their areas.

All of this and more is set to be part of the planned Pennsylvania listening tour, which has a total of eight planned stops. The complete schedule for this tour can be found on the Pennsylvania website. And Pennsylvania is not alone.

Alabama’s state government recently announced it will hold 67 general district meetings with similar goals. The Alabama series is a little less public-facing, instead targeting local governments and other community-level public stakeholders as stewards of the drive to connect everyone.

“This program gives participating counties and jurisdictions in those counties access to tools that understand broadband gaps and opportunities,” Alabama wrote in a statement, “which will allow communities to position themselves for comprehensive broadband efforts to address these challenges.”

With a historic and unprecedented amount of money from the federal government to the states, it is likely that every state in the country will host a series of similar outreach events. (Zack Quaintance)

NDIA RELEASES DIGITAL INCLUSION RESOURCES FOR LIBRARIES

Last week, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) announced a new resource to help libraries support digital inclusion efforts. The 2022 Digital Inclusion Toolkit was developed in partnership with the New York State Library. An American Library Association report identified public libraries as an essential part of closing the digital divide, and the NDIA resource aims to provide them with the information and tools they need to fulfill this role.

Although it focuses on New York State libraries, the resource provides a blueprint that can be used by any library and other organizations. The resource includes information about digital inclusion services, identifying community needs, planning programming, partnerships, and more. A relevant webinar has been produced by the NDIA to act as a companion resource and offer advice on using the toolkit.

In addition to this resource for libraries, the NDIA also recently released the State Digital Equity Plan Toolkit to help guide states in their digital capital planning processes. Both toolkits can be found on the NDIA website. (Julia Edinger)

NTIA Highlights 40 LOCAL GOVERNMENT DIGITAL RESOURCES

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a federal executive branch agency that advises the president on telecommunications policy, is compiling a list of digital capital resources for local governments, the agency announced.

While the list isn’t yet available, its stated intent is to “highlight a range of digital equity and inclusion activities taking place in 40 different city and county governments on BroadbandUSA’s Digital Inclusion Map,” the group said in a statement.

Once complete, the site will include a mapped list of local government digital capital sites, leaders, resources and published plans. Cities and counties that would like to be represented on this map, please contact NTIA at [email protected]

In the meantime, parties interested in finding information on digital equity and inclusion efforts in the United States can contact the National Alliance for Digital Inclusion, which has been a standard bearer of these efforts for years. (Zack Quaintance)

NEW YORK REPORTS CRITICAL CONNECTION RETURN

The New York State office of ConnectALL was awarded $5 million through the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program and $2.2 million through the Digital Equity Act Program. These funds will be used to support the state in the coming months to roll out broadband and build digital capital projects.

In addition to supporting planning efforts, the funds will enable the hiring of the state’s inaugural Digital Capital Director and other staff positions to help coordinate and support digital capital work across the state. The state will also create a Digital Equity Interagency Task Force to convene state agencies and a Broadband Access Advisory Committee to coordinate expertise among key infrastructure agencies, private sector telecommunications companies and a tribal expert. (Julia Edinger)

COLORADO IS GIVING, GETTING MORE BROADBAND GRANTS

Colorado continues to support broadband access and adoption through grants, with two recent announcements coming from the governor’s office there.

The first announcement is a grant for Colorado to receive an additional $5 million from the federal government to prepare for its Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) funding program. Much is at stake as BEAD represents the largest ever government investment in broadband. The federal government plans to announce each state’s BEAD allocation on June 30, with the latest $5 million grant intended to help Colorado make that allocation.

Meanwhile, Colorado also announced this month that it will allocate $171 million from the America Rescue Program’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CPF) to help connect households in the state to high-speed Internet. State officials estimate that this investment will directly help connect about 18,000 currently unserved households to more reliable Internet. (Zack Quaintance)

Finally, the Beeck Center, located at Georgetown University and one of the academic leaders supporting innovation in government digital services, has issued a new request for proposal (RFP) seeking a partner to help the organization strengthen its diversity, equity and inclusiveness.

Beeck Center writes: “At the Beeck Center, our mission is to improve the systems that underlie everyday life by using data, design and technology as tools for equitable societal change. We understand that in order to succeed in this mission, we must reflect and evolve internally in our understanding and action towards justice.”

The deadline for submissions is Friday, December 16. (Zack Quaintance)



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