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Kansas Office of Broadband Development (KOBD) wants feedback on their Digital Equity Strategic Plan

Kansas | October 25, 2023

The state's commitment to closing technology gaps is reflected in the prioritization of quality, affordable, and reliable broadband service for every Kansan. Please review the plan on the Digital Equity Strategic Plan page.

Kansas Office of Broadband Development (KOBD) believes in taking a comprehensive approach to federal and state funding opportunities to close the digital divide, which has made Kansas a national leader in applying for and using a wide range of opportunities to benefit our residents. Kansas is poised to leverage the historic federal infrastructure investment made to ensure all Kansans have access to affordable broadband and the necessary devices, training, and technical support to participate in our digital economy.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, statewide, over 153,000 Kansans lack subscriptions to high-speed internet due to infrastructure availability, affordability, or access to devices, digital literacy skills knowledge, and support. The connectivity gap is particularly noticeable within covered populations who have historically experienced lower rates of computer and internet use. Covered populations as defined by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration are:

  • individuals who live in covered households (referred to throughout the rest of this plan as “low-income households”)

  • aging individuals who are 60 years of age and older

  • incarcerated individuals (referred to throughout the rest of this plan as “justice involved”)

  • veterans

  • people with language barriers

  • members of racial or ethnic minority groups

  • individuals who reside in rural areas.

Digital Equity – Definition: Digital equity is the condition in which all individuals have the information technology capacity needed to fully participate in society, democracy, and the economy (see other key digital equity terms defined in Appendix 1 – Glossary of Terms Used).

To better understand these digital equity gaps, KOBD conducted a statewide “Broadband Roadshow” in the spring of 2023. Staff traveled over 50,000 miles, presenting and leading discussions during more than 28 events. These meetings served as the initial introduction of KOBD to the residents, businesses, local officials, nonprofits, CAIs, and associations of Kansas, with a goal to meet Kansans “where they live.” This comprehensive and collaborative approach helped KOBD better identify the needs and barriers of those populations experiencing gaps in broadband adoption, affordability, device and technical support availability, and digital literacy skills and knowledge. These communities helped KOBD understand the impact digital equity issues have on economic opportunities, healthcare, education, workforce development, and civic engagement, helping shape KOBD’s digital equity vision and this digital equity plan.

Moreover, KOBD enlisted the expertise and support of the University of Kansas (KU) and Wichita State University (WSU) to help draw a clearer picture of the needs, assets, and opportunities for digital equity in Kansas.

Your input is crucial in shaping the future of digital equity in Kansas. The public comment period for the DE Plan is open until November 2, 2023. KOBD urges you to participate and make your voice heard. Whether you're a resident, part of a community organization, a business owner, or a local authority, your perspective matters. KOBD asks you to share this information with your networks and encourage their participation.

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