200+ organizations want to reimagine, expand internet access for KC

Glenn Carstens Peters Npxxwgq33zq Unsplash

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters

A divide between those with sufficient internet and the knowledge to use it, and those without, has become prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some students have been without devices and there are older adults who have struggled with making appointments online.

The Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion is working towards increasing internet access and tackling digital inequality according to the Missouri Independent and The Kansas City Beacon. It works with the vision that every resident in Kansas City should have a device with internet access and be able to use the internet efficiently. Over 200 organizations including local nonprofits, internet service providers, city agencies, civic institutions, and businesses are working towards this vision.

Jewish Family Services is one of the organizations part of the KCCDI. Tech Connect is a program created by JFS to help older adults with digital access. The organization also has a partnership with KC Digital Drive. JFS provided the social work to reach residents who needed internet and KC Digital Drive provided the funds to make it happen.

“What we also know about social services is that sometimes they’re not coordinated so clients themselves have to go to two or three different doors to get their full needs met,” says Rachel Ohlhausen, program operations manager at Jewish Family Services. “And so we partnered closely with KC Digital Drive to make that a one-door stop.”

The KCCDI wants to form more partnerships across organizations, develop a public policy platform, increase awareness about digital inclusion, and increase digital access to move forward amidst this pandemic.

According to a report from data organization mySidewalk, 10% of households in Kansas City do not have a computer in the home and 14% of households do not have internet access. This means some households may encounter problems when trying to get access to the coronavirus vaccine. Missouri’s vaccination registration requires internet access.

However, Mayor Lucas created a coronavirus task force to make the coronavirus vaccine equitable and accessible to everyone. People can call the health department for more information and vaccine sites will be available by public transit.

Missouri Health and Senior Services tweeted Missouri’s Area Agencies on Aging will help seniors register for the vaccine, transport them, and conduct reminder calls for second doses of the vaccine.

The KCCDI has been working to obtain internet access for all since 2015 and will continue to do so amidst this pandemic. All coalition members are listed here.

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