Digital divide is leaving underserved families behind, Cooper says

ByMonique John via WTVD logo
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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Gov. Roy Cooper addressed the issue of expanding digital access for disadvantaged communities at a tech summit on Tuesday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Gov. Roy Cooper addressed the issue of expanding digital access for disadvantaged communities at a tech summit on Tuesday. while outlining the risks that marginalized families face as the digital divide widens. The governor broke down what the state is doing to mend it.

Cooper was addressing a crowd at the North Carolina Digital Government Summit in Raleigh.

"We know this cyber-revolution is bringing a lot of opportunities to our state, but also challenges. The opportunities are to promote education, telemedicine, small businesses accessing global markets and great paying jobs," the governor said. "The challenges are making sure that underserved areas get to take part in the cyber-revolution, making sure that they have access."

Cooper spoke on how economically disadvantaged groups are struggling to afford to participate in the digital world. He also vocalized worry about how these groups are being left behind. The governor went on to say the state is making an effort to get all families access to high-speed internet through its Department Of Information Technology. The state's office for Digital Equity and Literacy is pushing to give people digital training and to connect them with devices.

'The majority of our instruction takes place in the classroom setting. However, we certainly understand the importance of continuing to learn at home," said Dr. Lindsay Whitley, the Associate Superintendent of Cumberland County Schools.

Whitley acknowledged that economically disadvantaged families rely on hotspots and cellphones for internet access. He noted that the county provides students with Chromebooks to take home. However, it still has to direct marginalized people to take advantage of libraries and public schools after hours to get WI-FI.

"We just try to work toward solutions for those families that may not have access to internet because we still want students to have all of the resources that they need," Whitley said.

The governor said the state's Joint Cyber Security Task Force is also training residents to prevent cyberattacks.