Digital Inclusion

The digital divide is the issue. Digital equity is the goal. Digital inclusion is the work. 

Technology is changing rapidly and altering the ways residents expect to interact with their government. The City of Madison Information Technology (IT) department is committed to creating opportunities for residents to access City services and engage in City government more comfortably, securely and equitably through technology.

The Digital Divide

As technology evolves, resulting digital divides can prevent access to and adoption of tools for using it safely and effectively. The National League of Cities (NLC) defines the digital divide as the gap between individuals who have access to computers, high-speed (broadband) internet, and the skills to use them comfortably, and individuals who do not. Across the country, the digital divide disproportionately affects older adults, people with disabilities, households with low income, people of color, Indigenous peoples, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, people in rural areas, and others (per the National Digital Inclusion Alliance). This gap shows up in various ways in our community, including civic participation, employment, learning, public transportation, and access to other essential services and resources.

two boys sitting at a shared computer

The Road to Digital Equity: Digital Inclusion

Digital Inclusion is a key strategic priority for the City of Madison Information Technology (IT) department. A multi-year Digital Cities Survey Winner, the City strives to improve internet connectivity, digital engagement tools and practices, user experience, accessibility, and language access for Madison residents. It is also our goal to connect our residents, policymakers and staff with internal and external resources that support their digital needs and transform their lives. 

Our Madison's Digital Inclusion Ecosystem

To connect City residents, policymakers and staff with resources, we are currently mapping the City of Madison's Digital Inclusion Ecosystem. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance defines a digital inclusion ecosystem as, "a combination of programs and policies that meet a geographic community’s unique and diverse needs." This includes programs and policies that address all aspects of the digital divide and collaboration on digital access/adoption solutions among government, community partners and community members. If you are a local community or business partner offering low-cost or free broadband, digital literacy training, or device access/support, please reach out to digitalinclusion@cityofmadison.com and we will add your services to our list of local resources.

Programs & Initiatives  

Through the years, our City launched several inquiries, programs, and initiatives to enhance digital equity. While this list is not exhaustive, it represents our roadmap for digital inclusion.     

two individuals using public computers at Madison Public Library

Low-Cost Home Internet Access: ACP Currently in "Wind-down"

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federal program that helps low-income families afford internet service at home. The ACP stopped accepting new applications and enrollments on February 8th. Barring additional funding from Congress, April 2024 is expected to be the last month enrolled households will receive the full benefit. 

From the Federal Communications Commission

"ACP enrolled households are strongly encouraged to carefully review written notices from their internet company and from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), the ACP administrator, about the ACP wind-down.

Households are also encouraged to consult their internet company to learn more about how the end of the ACP will impact their internet service and bill."

ACP provides up to $30/month discount on internet service and a $75/month discount for households on qualifying tribal lands. Participants could also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50). 

For more information, please consult the ACP Wind-down Fact Sheet

The Affordable Connectivity Program is administered by USAC with oversight from the Federal Communications Commission.

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