Guest article by Angela Siefer
Director at National Digital Inclusion Alliance
I am so happy to announce the creation of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.
There is a clear need among non-profit organizations, libraries, schools and other community institutions for a national broadband adoption advocacy organization. Three federal agencies (National Telecommunications and Information Administration [NTIA], Housing and Urban Development [HUD], Federal Communications Commission [FCC]), plus the White House, are focusing significant attention and possibly significant resources on broadband adoption. How significant the resources will be could depend upon strong advocacy by broadband adoption practitioners in non-profit organizations and libraries.
There are groups who include broadband adoption in their advocacy work, but there has been a distinct lack of representation of on-the-ground broadband adoption practitioners representing both non-profit organizations and libraries at the federal level. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) has filled that gap. The purpose of NDIA is to be a unified voice for local technology training, home broadband access, and public broadband access programs. We work collaboratively to craft, identify, and disseminate operational resources for digital inclusion programs while serving as a bridge to policymakers and the general public.
The evidence is clear. To successfully increase broadband use in the U.S. we must have low-cost options AND local training/support, including a diverse set of local partners with established roots in the community. Trust of the individual and organization providing instruction on technology use and explaining broadband provider options is essential. This point has been reiterated in John Horrigan’s evaluation of Comcast’s Internet Essentials, an independent review of CenturyLink’s Internet Basics Program, and a myriad of documentation of National Telecommunication Information Administration’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), particularly the NTIA Broadband Adoption Toolkit.
Fortunately, our local non-profit organizations, libraries, schools, churches, and public housing agencies have been providing technology training and access for decades. Because the services are locally grown, they vary widely from basic technology classes taught by volunteers to home broadband programs with required technology training components. Unfortunately, many libraries struggle with adequate funding for public access, digital literacy and hotspot lending programs. Interest in hotspot lending programs (borrowing the Internet) is spreading rapidly. We must craft a long-range plan for sustaining these programs.
Does the above description sound familiar? Would you define yourself as a broadband adoption practitioner? We at the National Digital Inclusion Alliance are gathering broadband adoption practitioners, advocates, and supporters. Mobile Beacon was one of the first to join our efforts! Mobile Beacon has been instrumental introducing NDIA to broadband adoption practitioners and potential partners. They were also one of the first to make a financial donation!
To be listed as a practitioner and/or advocate of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, please fill out our online form, or contact Angela Siefer or any of the Founding Council Members.
The Digital Inclusion Alliance’s Founding Council is: