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Digitunity Releases Methodology for Sustainable Device Ecosystems

Utilizing this framework, communities can ensure access to free and low-cost computers for residents impacted by the digital divide.

Digitunity, a national nonprofit organization with over 40 years of experience in advancing digital equity through device ownership, has released new guidance for communities to ensure a sustainable supply of free or low-cost computers is available for residents in need.

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To thrive in the modern economy, everyone needs a connected computer. Device ownership is the heart of digital equity. It unlocks the vast opportunities provided by the internet, including education, employment, healthcare, commerce, communication, and civic engagement.

Digitunity’s guidance, entitled “Methodology for a Sustainable Device Ecosystem,” describes the conditions communities must have in place to ensure marginalized residents have the ability to obtain a computer. They will release and discuss this guidance in a webinar at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7. You can register for the webinar here.

The need is widespread. According to Digitunity’s analysis of recent U.S. Census data, 36 million people in America do not own a computer. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act commits $65 billion toward eliminating the deep, persistent digital divide continuing to plague the U.S.

This investment gives states and communities the opportunity to expand broadband infrastructure, connect disconnected residents, provide digital literacy training, and get free or low-cost computers to people who need them. As plans come together for expending these funds, devices cannot be an afterthought.

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“By releasing this framework, we hope to demonstrate to states, municipalities, coalitions, and community groups that by working collaboratively, it is within our reach to develop a lasting solution that makes it possible for residents in need to obtain affordable computers,” said Scot Henley, Executive Director of Digitunity.

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The guidance maps out several conditions communities must establish so residents have access to a reliable, robust supply of computers, along with connectivity, training, and additional support. It also describes specific considerations related to the devices themselves including how they are prepared, what their intended use might be, and how they can reach those most in need.

“Using this federal investment to simply purchase computers would be a short-sighted answer and not the best use of this opportunity,” said Henley. “Now is the time for the corporate sector, government, philanthropy, and nonprofit organizations to collaborate with communities on establishing new systems that can give residents access to devices, both today and in the future.”

Through this guidance and additional publications to be released, Digitunity intends to leverage its unique body of work and independent, national lens to inform the field and provide communities with novel ideas about how to eliminate the digital divide. Digitunity is available to advise states, municipalities, and coalitions on program design and implementation.

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