California, County of Santa Clara and City of San Jose Partner with Community to Close the Digital Divide in Silicon Valley
Regional event will focus on closing the Digital Divide in South Bay & Peninsula
The Santa Clara County Office of Education, the County of Santa Clara, the City of San Jose, Joint Venture Silicon Valley, the California Department of Technology (CDT), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), other state agencies and local partners invite Santa Clara and San Mateo County organizations and community members to take another step toward creating an equitable digital future by making their voices heard at the Broadband for All, Digital Equity, and Broadband Equity, Adoption, and Deployment (BEAD) Regional Planning Workshops.
Speakers will include, County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, and San Jose City Librarian Jill Bourne, among several executives from the State of California.
The event is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending are encouraged to register to ensure adequate space and accommodations. To Register, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/broadband-for-all-digital-equity-and-bead-planning-workshop-san-jose-tickets-608742795087?aff=odcleoeventsincollection.
Friday, May 5, 2023, from 10:00am – 2:30pm
The Santa Clara County Office of Education, 1290 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose
The internet is critical to everyday life. Yet one out of five Californians, including over 100,000 residents in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, lack access to affordable, reliable internet service, devices, or the skills to use them. As a result, millions in our state are unable to access essential government services and realize other social and economic benefits. This gap is referred to as the “digital divide” which most impacts low-income households, older adults, individuals with disabilities, veterans, justice-involved individuals, members of racial and ethnic minority groups, those with language barriers and low levels of literacy, and rural residents.
Broadband for All is the state’s overarching program to close the digital divide and foster digital equity in our communities. The state has invested billions of dollars to achieve Broadband for All and ensure that every resident has access to affordable and reliable internet, devices, and skills training. But more needs to be done.
“It is unacceptable that in Silicon Valley so many of our residents live disconnected—which is why San Jose worked furiously to close that gap during the pandemic, committing over $20M to build WiFi networks, distribute computers and devices, and provide digital skill training. While recent investments in digital connectivity are unprecedented, suburban and urban areas still face barriers, not just in the form of connection, but also access to devices and digital literacy. I’m grateful that our State and Federal representatives are working with us to close these gaps,” said San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes from our memory, we cannot forget that the digital divide still exists in our community. More than 70,000 Santa Clara County residents do not have internet access at the speeds necessary for remote learning or having a telehealth appointment with their doctor,” said Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “Additionally, more than 600,000 county residents only have a single provider available for high-speed internet, putting them at the mercy of a monopoly. We need to close this digital divide in the heart of Silicon Valley.”
“While the digital divide is defined as the gulf between students and their families who have ready access to computers and the internet, and those who do not. It truly goes deeper than that,” said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, County Superintendent of Schools. “It includes ensuring that the proper infrastructure is in place so that all students have equitable access to high-speed internet. Quality internet removes barriers to accessing school assignments, conducting homework research, accessing virtual health care, and gives families the opportunity to maximize the daily tasks that are a part of our digital, real-time world.”
“Access to broadband is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity,” says David Witkowski, executive director of the Civic Technologies Initiative at Joint Venture Silicon Valley. “Closing the digital divide and ensuring digital equity is essential for economic growth, education, healthcare, and social inclusion in Silicon Valley and everywhere.”
The workshop is part of a series of 20 events being held across California to engage with the public and collect feedback. Input shared during the workshops will help California develop the State’s Digital Equity and BEAD Five-Year Action Plans that will determine how future federal dollars are allocated to address digital inequities in the community.