RS1: California

California wanted to bridge the digital divide but left rural areas behind. Now that’s about to change

The article “California wanted to bridge the digital divide but left rural areas behind. Now that’s about to change” from the Los Angeles Times talks about the steps being taken in California to close the Digital Divide that exists in the state. Even though California is home to a large number of leading technology companies, the article describes some examples of the Digital Divide that exist for those living in the state. The writer explains how “most students in Winters – a farming community of 7,000, west of Sacramento” (para 1) did not even have access to computers at home until a few years ago. This Digital Divide not only prevents communities living so close to the heart of innovation in California from access to technology that can make their lives easier but also prevents them from getting help in cases where technology could really benefit local communities. For instance, the writer talks about how “Even as recently as October in the tiny town of Laytonville, connectivity (to the internet) was so sparse that residents struggled to find out where and when to evacuate during wildfires” (para 8). This barrier to good access to technology has created a lot of struggles for the people of the rural communities in the state. The article gives the example of people like Trish Steel, whose son, until heading out to college 4 years ago had to work on his homework between midnight and 5am when their satellite data plan was unlimited.

 

The writer then discusses the steps that are being taken by these communities to help give their people easy access to technology and the Internet. In Winters, one of the residents Aguiar-Curry helped persuade an independent provider in 2014 to extend free Wi-Fi to a housing complex for a few hours each night – so students could work on their homework. Similar pushes also led to all high school students now using Chromebooks and children learning how to code as early as 2nd grade in Winters, California. The article also describes the Internet for All Bill (taking effect from Jan 1. 2018) which will provide “$300 million for infrastructure and $30 million for other efforts” (para 32). Aguiar-Curry, in the article, explains how “this infrastructural support would help them improve their chance of winning federal and private dollars in the future” (para 33). All in All, the article tries to highlight how local communities who were at a disadvantage due to the growing Digital Divide have been taking steps to help close it.

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