Mayor Sarno states, “This is an issue my administration has been working on for over a year with a feasibility study on municipal fiber and closing that digital divide. The internet has become an essential utility for individuals, families and businesses, and my administration is committed to closing the digital divide in our community so that more households can be connected. Along with reviewing plans to advance our own municipal fiber-to-the-home network, CAFO TJ Plante, IT Director Andy Doty and I are now pursuing funding for a Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program through the Massachusetts Broadband Institute to further our comprehensive work around advancing digital equity in Springfield.”
“Mitigating the inequities within the fast-paced digital economy is a top priority for my administration,” continued Mayor Sarno. “We recognize the tremendous impact that the digital divide continues to have on our community in myriad ways, from basic access to skills and training, especially among our under-resourced residents and members of the city's immigrant communities. This Municipal Digital Equity Program will provide crucial assistance in Springfield’s efforts to develop sustainable and equitable practices and initiatives around technology usage. These invaluable investments will better the lives of our most vulnerable residents, granting them access to promising opportunities and an enhanced quality of life.”
City Councilor Attorney Michael Fenton stated, "I am grateful for the Mayor's support in pursuing this grant so that we can write a digital equity plan that will assist with bridging the digital divide. The Internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity. I am proud of the work of our group and look forward to hopefully winning this grant and delivering a digital equity plan by the end of 2023."
Springfield is excited to begin this important work as we know the subsequent outcomes will establish a firm foundation to support our region's ongoing efforts toward an equitable digital economy, benefiting both present and future generations.
Chief Information Officer Andy Doty said, “Going after funding from the Massachusetts Broadband Institute’s Digital Equity Planning Program is the next step in advancing our work to close the digital divide in our community and to help meet the needs of our constituents. Our next step will also include a digital equity questionnaire for our residents to better gauge their interest in connecting their households to the internet, either through a municipal fiber-to-the-home network or through an already existing program and initiative.”
“The digital equity gap in Springfield means that not everyone has access to the devices, affordable internet access, and training they need to go online and apply for a job, attend a medical appointment with their doctor, stay in touch with family, and know how to recognize safe sites and potential scams,” said Jean Canosa Albano. “A Digital Equity Plan will identify the aspirations and needs of Springfield residents and make us eligible to apply for federal funding to address the gaps.”