Giving Compass’ Take:
• A study commissioned by the Abell Foundation found that 96,000 Baltimore households lack wired internet access and shed light on the digital divide.
• The creation of the Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition, which brings together 50 organizations to work on closing the digital divide, “shows promise in further expanding the range of stakeholders addressing Baltimore’s access gaps.” How can local donors support this initiative?
• Read more about the digital divide and why it is so difficult to solve.
Over 40% of Baltimore households (96,000) lacked wired access to internet in 2018 through cable, fiber or another service, according to a study released last week by the Abell Foundation. The study also found that one in three households (75,000) lack a desktop or laptop computer. The report analyzed internet access in 33 cities, including Washington, DC, Philadelphia and those known for being tech hubs like Boston, Seattle and San Jose, CA. Baltimore ranked 29th for home wired broadband adoption, preceding Milwaukee, Cleveland, Memphis, TN and Detroit. Wireline broadband adoption grew three times faster in the other cities examined than in Baltimore from 2016 to 2018.
The report sheds a stark light on the digital divide in Baltimore, which affects low-income households and communities of color the most. The Abell Foundation found that while 73.3% of White households in Baltimore have wired internet service, only 50.2% of Black households and 46.4% of Hispanic households have the same. Meanwhile, just 33.8% of low-income residents have wired internet service compared to 83% of households with an annual income over $75,000.
City leaders have made some strides, the report said, but it urged them to do more. It praised the Baltimore City Council and Mayor Bernard Young to use $3 million from the city’s Children and Youth Fund on laptops and increased internet access. And it said the creation of the Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition, which brings together 50 organizations to work on closing the digital divide, “shows promise in further expanding the range of stakeholders addressing Baltimore’s access gaps.”
COVID-19 has brought into focus the continuing issue of digital equity and access in the United States, and it is no different in Baltimore.
Read the full article about internet success by Chris Teale at Smart Cities Dive.
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