The COVID-19 pandemic has unironically highlighted the digital divide, especially considering how many Americans attend school and work meetings—or even shop—from the comfort of their homes. But, there’s no surprise that many Californians do not have broadband connectivity in their homes.
A new report from the National Urban League shows that both low-income and communities of color are often not entitled to the same luxuries. Only 54 percent of households bringing in $50,000 or less have internet access at home in contrast to the 84% of households with incomes of more than $75,000 annually. To break it down even further, here are the percentages of households who have broadband access by race: 80 percent of Asians, 72 percent of Whites, 66 percent of Latinos, 62 percent of Blacks, and 60 percent of Native Americans.
To make matters worse, the government has an incredibly antiquated approach to providing broadband services. Federal agencies have ancient technology, limited budgets, and almost no competition from private sector companies “to stay on the cutting edge of digital services and to prioritize citizen-centric experiences,” claims the National Urban League.
The report made a series of recommendations focused on government innovation, improving government service delivery, and investing in more modern technology to remedy this. The recommendations include establishing a Chief Innovation Officer at the Whitehouse, increasing the size of the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program, enabling federal employees to easily propose new ideas around better digital delivery of services, and redesigning federal websites and apps.
Incorporating more modern and innovative technology is critical to improving public services, especially for Californians with no time to navigate through possible solutions to their modern broadband crises. It’s essential to establish easily accessible and efficient government services for communities that have taken the hardest hit from the COVID-19 pandemic and need assistance.