What do you see as the City’s responsibility toward addressing the digital divide in Austin, and what steps would you take to bridge that divide?

Rich DePalma

City Council, District 8

  • Broadband Equity – Leverage publicly owned utilities and infrastructure to expand wireless internet access with the ultimate goal of scaling to city-wide universal internet access.
  • We can not assume that just because the community has access to the internet – either on computers or their phones, that they know how to access resources available to them. We need a greater focus on Digital Inclusion and Training to ensure that all people and communities, including our most disadvantaged, have access to information technology both to improve their economic mobility as well as for social interaction/access and quality of life (as might be the case for our elderly).
  • Increasing continuing education and community education programs with partners like ACC, UT, St. Eds as well as non-profits like FreeNet which offer basic computer training and employment certifications.
  • Promote small business and entrepreneurship programs
  • We should crowdsource not just solutions but information and problems. We have hackathons, how about town halls to just find out what people want or need? Due to bureaucracy, technology is developing faster than we can procure and implement at city hall. Experts are eager to share this knowledge and new tools with us, but due to red tape and complexities of procurement, we need to create more opportunities for us to engage and learn with/from these innovators and to address how as a city we might more rapidly adopt innovation that works for us, makes our government run more efficiently, and addresses our needs.