A new take on the Digital Divide in Minneapolis

The City of Minneapolis recently concluded a comprehensive survey intended to understand how residents use computers, mobile devices and the Internet to better their daily lives.

By extension, the results shine new light on Minneapolis’ ongoing digital divide problem.

The digital divide conceptually refers to a gap between individuals and groups in their access to information and communication technologies, and their use and knowledge of these technologies.

“We see the digital divide in Minneapolis has having three components: the right tools, the right application and the right attitude,” said Otto Doll, who has been the CIO for the City of Minneapolis since February of last year.

Doll has previously called for more coordinated efforts on this front, stating that:

“The City’s IT vision includes a component for addressing the digital divide…our residents and businesses need to be equipped to effectively compete with others around the world—to be smarter, more creative, more knowledgeable, and more innovative. Leveraging technology is a necessary ingredient of success.”

The $40k survey was jointly commissioned by the Digital Inclusion Fund and the City of Minneapolis beginning back in January.  While other digital divide surveys have been conducted over the years, Doll considers it to be the first analysis focused exclusively on Minneapolis as a city. The framework clustered the city into 32 ‘neighborhood clusters’ drawn from Minneapolis’ 11 local communities, providing a more granular degree of data than has been collected before, he says.

A total of 8,800 surveys were mailed and 2,600, or 30% replied.

“Overall, we found that 82% self reported having a computer at home, but looking at the 57% in Phillips and 65% near North Minneapolis who do not, proves that the divide is far from evenly distributed,” Doll says. “We really think that the action needs to happen on a neighborhood level.”

“It’s important to ensure that all individuals can participate in the benefits of the digital society for their own well being as well as our collective economic potential.  We see our role as being able to identifying gaps and facilitate conversation around what both the public and private sector can to to better serve our city.”

Doll invites business leaders from the Minnesota tech community to participate in ongoing dialogue this month.  The convening framework will explore the survey results, generate ideas for action, and build relationships.

Contact Elise Ebhardt, 612-673-2026 for more information.

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