Hawaii Mom Blog: BROADBAND HUI ISSUES DIGITAL EQUITY DECLARATION

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January 25, 2021

BROADBAND HUI ISSUES DIGITAL EQUITY DECLARATION

A Digital Equity Declaration for Hawaiʻi was adopted by a multi-sector conglomerate of local organizations and individuals.

This Declaration compiles the collective priorities articulated through the months of thoughtful Broadband Hui conversations and, in alignment with the 2020 Hawai‘i Broadband Strategic Plan, sets a foundation for collective action among private- and public-sector partners by providing a vision and goals that will move Hawaiʻi toward a more equitable digital future.

The Declaration is a call to address these critical needs by advancing the following three pillars of digital equity: Access: Affordable, quality broadband for all; Literacy: A baseline of digital competence for all; and Livelihood: Societal systems effectively leveraging digital opportunities to improve lives.

Signing the Digital Equity Declaration is still available and a running list of signatures will be kept along with the Declaration on www.broadbandhui.org/.

Hawai‘i was not prepared for the first stay-at-home, work-from-home orders triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, providing equitable access to broadband, improving digital literacy, and effectively applying digital tools in essential sectors became among the State’s most pressing challenges.

In March 2020, driven by the initial urgency to provide digital connectivity to those in need, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii, and Transform Hawaiʻi Government convened twenty participants to find immediate solutions. In the 10 months since this initial convening, more than 200 individuals representing wireline and wireless carriers, federal, state and county legislative and administrative leaders, local, national, and international non-profits, public and private schools, universities, and private businesses joined the exploratory conversations. These ongoing weekly convenings gave voice to the community, and became known as the Broadband Hui.

Through the frank and diverse input gathered in this collective forum, it has become overwhelmingly apparent that many in Hawai‘i, primarily from rural and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, lack the necessary digital tools to work, learn, access essential services, and participate in civic and social activities.

Jeanne Skog, Chair of the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaiʻi, said, “Digital equity is ultimately more than access to broadband, achieving digital literacy, or adopting the technology. It is about enabling every resident to qualify for the vast array of livelihoods. It is about Hawaiʻi surviving and thriving in the digital economy.”

“The work of this alliance of broadband stakeholders both inside and outside of state government and with participation from all of Hawaiʻi’s counties, clearly demonstrates what we are able to accomplish if we work together,” said Christine Sakuda, Executive Director of Transform Hawaiʻi Government. “Transform Hawaiʻi Government was pleased to support the Broadband Hui with resources to help develop the Digital Equity Declaration and Digital Equity Hawaiʻi social media sites.”

For more information on the Broadband Hui and the Digital Equity Declaration please contact Burt Lum, Strategy Officer - Broadband, DBEDT.

For more information on digital equity efforts in Hawaiʻi follow Digital Equity Hawaiʻi on social media on Facebook at www.facebook.com/digitalequityhawaii on Instagram at www.instagram.com/digitalequityhawaii and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/digitalequityhi.

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