Photo: Map of the U.S.A.

The Digital Equity Scorecard: Present and Future

Posted on June 12, 2023 by Karen Stewart, Digital Access for All Engagement Team
The interactive Digital Equity Scorecard Map provides data on the digital opportunity gap in each state and a digital scorecard, with states scored in six areas based on established criteria, with the top score being six. The digital opportunity gap, or the digital divide, is the gap between those with affordable access, skills, and support to engage online effectively and those without. As technology constantly evolves, the digital divide prevents equal participation and opportunity in all parts of life, disproportionately affecting people of color, Indigenous peoples, households with low incomes, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, and older adults. The six areas on the scorecard include Data on Digital Skill Needs, Comprehensive Plan to Address Digital Skill Gaps, Online Digital Skills Training, Incumbent Worker Training Funds, Technology Apprenticeships, and State Broadband Plans.

In my recent interview with Aaron Schill, Director of Research and Data with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, he provided interesting insight into how the scorecard was developed, its intended uses, and ways it will be updated. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) advances digital equity by supporting community programs and equipping policymakers to act. In his role, Aaron and the NDIA team work with local digital inclusion coalitions and serves on policy teams working with states.

The Digital Equity Scorecard was developed in partnership with NDIA, The National Skills Coalition (NSC), and funded by Microsoft. It was designed to be a catalyst for digital equity, providing a road map of how states are working to address digital access, determine the standards being utilized by each state, and provide a repository of information that could help strengthen digital equity across the country. Schill stated that the scorecard was designed to measure how each state is doing and provides resources and an inventory of progress, helping practitioners understand where they are. These learnings can be a catalyst to ensure that the broad community, whether it be a four-year-old getting prepared for school, a third grader reading on grade level, a college student excelling, a person changing careers, or the older person maintaining their engagement with the community through digital access, skills, and devices.

A collaborative working group including Microsoft, NDIA and its affiliate community, NSC, and the practitioner community was engaged to determine the data points and vet and validate the information. The scorecard was populated by a group of interns and a consultant funded by Microsoft who scored the internet to gather the information and did not require states to provide the information on the scorecard.

The NDIA plans to update and strengthen the information on the scorecard in the fall. The update will include a 'fix for broken links,' a holistic look at new indicators demonstrating how states have evolved with the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD) planning, and new indicators and scoring reflecting learnings and progress made. The data will again be collected by NDIA with a short list of data being requested from states. The updated scorecard will also list contact information for each state.

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