(Kansas City, Missouri) - Leaders of a broad initiative to expand Kansas Citians' access to computers and the Internet - and narrow a digital divide that is most pronounced among minorities and seniors - are ramping up their efforts.
Three months after an unprecedented summit on the issue that drew more than 200 individuals and organizations to the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., organizers will reconvene Friday, January 16, 2015, at the Library to deliver their official report and map out next steps. And they will unveil a new digital inclusion website.
The three-hour Digital Inclusion Town Hall gathering begins at 9 a.m.
The numbers behind the community-wide drive are sobering. A Google study showed that 28% of Kansas City's residents don't have access to the Internet, 41% think it's irrelevant, and 17% - almost one in five in the city - don't use it. Of the latter, close to half are African Americans and nearly that many are 65 or older.
Separate data suggests that 70% of all students in Kansas City's public schools don't have Internet access at home.
The repercussions can be profound, posing challenges in job seeking, conducting business, accessing health information, completing homework, and simply communicating day to day.
The initial, daylong Kansas City Digital Inclusion Summit in October 2014 examined trends, discussed challenges and opportunities, spotlighted current inclusion efforts, and shared best practices. Addressing the problem, organizers wrote in a draft of their report, "requires leadership with a broad, integrated vision of potential solutions to existing barriers and new ones that emerge or develop."
Individuals and groups now "are typically tackling the issue from their own perspective, capitalizing on their respective capabilities, talents, and resources to develop their envisioned solutions. Some efforts are unique. Others, however, could be duplicating efforts, leaving potential gaps among necessary steps for addressing the digital divide successfully.
"There is a real opportunity ... to create a coordinating organization."
Proposals coming out of the October summit range from heightening awareness to engaging business and both community and faith-based organizations in the collaborative effort.
Sponsors and partners in the initiative are the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Kansas Department of Commerce; City of Kansas City, Missouri; The Brainzooming Group; Google Fiber; Truman Medical Centers; Local Investment Commission (LINC); Full Employment Council (FEC); KC Stem Alliance; Urban TEC; Comcast; Connecting for Good; Kansas City Digital Drive; Kansas City, Missouri, Parks and Recreation; Kansas City, Kansas Public Library; Linwood Family YMCA; Literacy Kansas City; Metropolitan Community Colleges; and Mid-Continent Public Library, along with the Kansas City Public Library.
A continental breakfast is provided at the town hall session. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore.