SA Digital Connects is working to close community’s digital divide

More than 20 percent of our neighbors in San Antonio and Bexar County face barriers to accessing the internet.

When SA Digital Connects launched in September 2021, we committed to be a voice for digital inclusion and to bring solutions for fast, reliable and affordable internet to all. We are a public-private-community collaboration working to implement the San Antonio and Bexar County Digital Equity Plan, which outlines our steps to close the digital divide.

As I near my first anniversary serving as SA Digital Connects executive director, I think back to my final interview for this role. I had my laptop and iPad set up, and joined the Zoom meeting at 8:55 am for the 9 am interview. The connection was slow, I quickly troubleshot, and nothing worked, so I did my interview on the phone. While this ironic internet glitch was frustrating, it’s the daily reality for many of our neighbors.

What about people who don’t have a choice? What about people who are permanently disconnected, who cannot participate in today’s society and economy?

Our goal is that all residents in the city and county will be connected to the internet by 2025-2026. Our approach to solving the digital divide focuses on three areas: access/infrastructure, affordability and adoption/digital skills.

This week, National Digital Inclusion Week, is a time to come together to bring awareness and solutions to digital inequities in our community. This year’s theme is “Turning Our Moment into Movement,” and that’s exactly what we’re doing for our community.

The digital divide is very real; it’s a social determinant of health (that can have damaging, long-lasting effects.

Life without internet access means that people in our community cannot apply for jobs, access benefits, use telehealth, do research for college, access job training, receive timely emergency information, access city and county resources — and the list goes on.

Using phones to access services or apply for jobs isn’t equitable or sustainable. Affordable and quality internet is foundational to reducing systemic inequities, and driving the next generation of societal and economic development.

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