Louisville celebrates Digital Inclusion Week, touts national Trailblazer designation
As Digital Inclusion Week concludes, Louisville Metro Government (LMG) is celebrating the designation as a 2022 Digital Inclusion Trailblazer by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) — 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 fast-changing world of technology and innovation — and that we needed to make sure every resident, no matter their ZIP code, had access to the digital resources and skills to be successful in a 21st Century workplace and society,” Mayor Greg Fischer said.
“I appreciate Grace Simrall, our Chief of Civic Innovation & Technology, and her hard-working team for their vital focus on digital inclusion.”
Steps taken during Mayor Fischer’s 12-year tenure 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 another 1,276 new devices provided to residents in need.
The city has partnered with high-speed internet providers and the federal government to help promote and sign people up for 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 the city’s public libraries and community centers.
Completion of Phase I of the expansion of the Louisville Fiber Internet Technology project, or LFIT, in 2020, which added 100 miles to LMG’s fiber network in west Louisville, along Broadway to Shawnee Park and into Portland via 22nd Street. LFIT is a partnership with KentuckyWired, the Commonwealth’s project to provide what’s called “middle-mile” fiber infrastructure, a digital highway, so that private companies can come in and set up the final connection to households and businesses. The Mayor thanked Metro Council for their partnership in the $5.4 million city investment 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 learned how to use Microsoft Excel, Power BI, and Power Apps.
Louisville is only two cities in the world to achieve What Works City’s Platinum Certification 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 about resources available to help bridge the digital divide, which disproportionately affects communities of color.
NDIA Trailblazers are judged based on six criteria showing a city or county’s digital inclusion leadership. These include having full-time local government staff, a digital inclusion plan, an open-access coalition, survey research, funded digital inclusion programming, and efforts to increase affordability of home broadband service. The six criteria also provide cities and counties that are just getting started with digital inclusion an effective pathway to leadership in their community.
As the Infrastructure Act continues to roll out, 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 consult and include existing city plans within their state.
About National Digital Inclusion Alliance: NDIA advances digital equity by supporting community programs and equipping policymakers to act. Working collaboratively with more than 800 digital inclusion practitioners, NDIA advocates for broadband access, tech devices, digital skills training, and tech support. For more information on Digital Inclusion Trailblazers, visit digitalinclusion.org/digital-inclusion-trailblazers.