Louisville Celebrates Digital Inclusion Week and Touts National Pioneer Designation

As Digital Inclusion Week comes to an end, the Louisville Metropolitan Government (LMG) celebrates the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) Digital Inclusion Pioneer 2022 designation – the third time the city has received the accolade for digital equity.

“Even before I was mayor, it was clear to me that Louisville needed to be better aligned with the rapidly changing world of technology and innovation – and that we needed to ensure that every resident, regardless of zip code , had access to the digital resources and skills to succeed in a 21st century workplace and society,” said Mayor Greg Fischer.

“I appreciate Grace Simrall, our Head of Civic Innovation and Technology, and her hard-working team for their vital focus on digital inclusion.”

Actions taken during Mayor Fischer’s 12-year term to improve digital inclusion and equity, and transparency include:

This summer, the city launched free public outdoor Wi-Fi in the Russell neighborhood.

1,174 donated devices repaired and provided to digital skills training participants; and 1,276 additional new devices provided to residents in need.

The city has partnered with high-speed internet providers and the federal government to help promote and enroll people in the Affordable Connectivity program, which now has nearly 43,000 participants.

Creation of 15 dedicated community computer labs with digital skills providers in addition to public libraries and community centers across the city.

Completed Phase I of the Louisville Fiber Internet Technology, or LFIT, project expansion in 2020, which added 100 miles to LMG’s fiber network in West Louisville, along Broadway to Shawnee Park and Portland via 22nd Street. LFIT is a partnership with KentuckyWired, the Commonwealth project to provide what is called a “middle mile” fiber optic infrastructure, a digital highway, so that private companies can enter and make the final connection to households and businesses . The Mayor thanked the Metro Council for their partnership in the municipal investment of $5.4 million in LFIT.

The Future of Work partnership with Microsoft to further promote digital skills, with a focus on underserved communities, including recent online workshops where 2,500 people learned how to use Microsoft Excel, Power BI and Power Apps.

Louisville is just two cities in the world to have earned Platinum certification from What Works City for good governance through the use of data.

This week, in celebration of Digital Inclusion Week, the Office for Civic Innovation & Technology hosted information sessions with Black faith leaders and Latino community leaders to share resources available to help Bridging the digital divide, which disproportionately affects communities of color.

NDIA Pioneers are judged based on six criteria showing a city or county’s leadership in digital inclusion. These include having full-time local government staff, a digital inclusion plan, an open access coalition, surveys, funded digital inclusion programs and efforts to increase the affordability of the home broadband service. The six criteria also provide cities and counties new to digital inclusion with an effective pathway to leadership in their community.

As infrastructure law continues to unfold, city and county digital inclusion plans and work will continue to become more necessary and influential. As states create plans under the Digital Equity Act, they will be required to review and include existing city plans in their state.

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About the National Alliance for Digital Inclusion: The NDIA advances digital equity by supporting community programs and empowering decision makers. Working with more than 800 digital inclusion practitioners, NDIA advocates for broadband access, technology devices, digital skills training and technical support. For more information on digital inclusion trailblazers, visit digitalinclusion.org/digital-inclusion-trailblazers.

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