The Connecticut Department of Administrative Services’ Commission for Educational Technology has released “Connecticut: Everyone Connected,” the state’s draft digital equity plan.
According to the state, the plan’s goals include developing and promoting digital skills and technical support programs that directly serve residents; ensuring residents have options for getting online that are affordable and meet their needs; and expanding digital government services at the state and local levels.
“Connecticut has taken significant steps to close the digital divide in our state,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “The goals in the ‘Everyone Connected’ plan extend that work, from connections and computers to training and support that help improve the lives of all residents.”
Funding for the plan comes from the Biden-Harris administration’s Internet for All Initiative, which was created as part of the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will make the state eligible for implementation funds to expand Connecticut residents’ access to affordable, high-speed internet, devices, and training.
“Across state agencies, we are moving services online, giving residents a choice in how and when they access programs,” Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Michelle Gilman said. “This plan will help make sure everyone has the connection, device, and skills to take advantage of those services.”
The state noted that its release of the digital equity plan begins a 30-day public comment period, during which residents can submit their feedback through that website, by email, or by phone. The commission will then consider all feedback and make revisions to the plan before finalizing it by the end of March 2024.
When developing the plan, the commission engaged more than 7,000 Connecticut residents and conducted in-depth research into the barriers to technology access. The state said the draft plan will help ensure that all Connecticut residents can benefit from life in the digital world for learning, career advancement, telehealth, and leveraging state services.
The governor’s office noted that the plan is consistent with Federal guidance, and emphasizes the needs of traditionally disenfranchised groups, including residents at or below 150 percent of the poverty line, racial and ethnic minorities, the aging, those incarcerated in or in transition from state correctional facilities, individuals with disabilities or language barriers, those living in rural areas, and veterans.
“The draft plan reflects more than a year of research, outreach, and collaboration to understand what gets in the way of residents accessing and effectively using digital tools,” Mark Raymond, Connecticut’s chief information officer and chair of the Commission for Educational Technology, said.