The city of Chula Vista recently adopted a Digital Equity and Inclusion Plan, which lays out a series of actions to connect more of its community to the internet.
“None of us saw COVID-19 coming when we were working on this plan, but this crisis has emphasized how critically important it is for our entire community to be able to connect to services online,” said Mayor Mary Salas in a statement. “Many of our residents who need services, like food deliveries for seniors or unemployment information, don’t have a smartphone or high-speed internet. That really makes a difference in our ability to meet people’s needs.”
The plan helps the city identify where the digital divide exists through key statistics:
- Broadband internet service is available at 98.2 percent of residences in the city;
- Roughly 11 percent of city residents don’t have a broadband Internet subscription;
- Almost 5 percent of residents don’t have devices to connect to the internet.
Among the residents most affected by lack of internet access are the disabled, the homeless and housing-insecure, job seekers, low-income residents, migrants and refugees, those who don’t speak English, seniors and students.
To bridge the gap, the plan creates several steps, including expanding and improving technology services, such as computer classes at the library and senior center, as well as making the city website more accessible for those with disabilities and those who speak languages other than English. Other actions include pursuing grants and partnerships to offer programs and services to residents, such as mobile WiFi hotspots and free or low-cost computing devices.
The City Council adopted the plan in late May after a year-long process of research, interviews and community meetings with regional and state agencies and community-based organizations.
The adoption of the Digital Equity and Inclusion Plan came just a month after the City Council voted to spend $650,000 to buy 2,000 WiFi hotspot devices for families with children who need internet access for online classes. The Chula Vista Elementary School District distributed the hotspots at the end of May to foster youth, homeless youth, special education students and other families who could not otherwise afford internet access.
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