Internet connectivity and the availability of high-speed broadband has become an area of concern for many communities as leaders understand the necessity of an internet connection to fully participate in today’s society. However, many communities still do not have access to high-speed broadband and have low levels of broadband subscriptions among their population, furthering the digital divide.
The Alliance for Innovation’s strategic partner, Arizona State University, hosted Caroline Tolbert, Ph.D. to speak as a part of their series Technology in the Public Interest: An Author Series, "Innovation and the Community Impact”. Dr. Tolbert unveiled how technology, and specifically high-speed broadband relates to the economic vitality of communities and can be used to close digital and economic divides.
Dr. Tolbert and Arizona State University’s Dr. Karen Mossberger’s work reveals how internet connectivity relates to community prosperity, which they discuss in their upcoming book Digital Human Capital and the Future of Communities. Through analyzing two decades of data that create a timeline of broadband adoption throughout the nation, it is discovered that communities with broadband connectivity tend to see greater prosperity and growth. However, communities that are more digitally inclusive, meaning broadband and technology is available, affordable, and accessible to all, experience greater economic outcomes. Through ensuring digital inclusivity, communities see more of their population being able to afford broadband subscriptions and take advantage of the opportunities that come with access to a stable internet connection.
The importance of available, affordable broadband is reaffirmed, especially as broadband becomes a marker of economic and community prosperity. Through these findings, community leaders can continue to discover how prioritizing accessible technology can be used to bridge both the digital and economic divides in their communities.