The Infrastructure Funding and Jobs Act (IIJA) handed in 2021 dedicates $65 billion for broadband funding which may very well be integral in closing the digital divide, notably in rural areas. In keeping with a Pew analysis survey from 2021, those that reside in rural areas proceed to be disproportionately affected by the digital divide, falling behind their city counterparts by 5 p.c by way of residence broadband entry and by 9 p.c by way of smartphone entry.
Varied limitations proceed to complicate rural People’ means to get on-line, from an absence of widespread information on the place broadband property exist, to correct depictions and information on how residents of those areas are adversely affected by the shortage of high-speed web and utility breakdowns.
On this episode of TechTank, host Nicol Turner Lee is joined by Xochitl Torres Small, america Division of Agriculture’s Underneath Secretary for Rural Growth. On this function, she champions rural folks by serving to small cities entry the funding they should make their communities extra livable by means of infrastructure enhancements, reasonably priced housing, and modernizing important amenities like faculties, hospitals, well being care facilities, and public security stations. Collectively, they talk about ongoing work to shut the urban-rural digital divide, how IIJA funding has helped the USDA develop packages such because the ReConnect program, and the way the USDA has been working to satisfy completely different communities’ hyperlocal wants.
TechTank is a biweekly podcast from The Brookings Establishment exploring essentially the most consequential know-how problems with our time. From synthetic intelligence and racial bias in algorithms, to Massive Tech, the way forward for work, and the digital divide, TechTank takes summary concepts and makes them accessible. Moderators Dr. Nicol Turner Lee and Darrell West converse with main know-how consultants and policymakers to share new information, concepts, and coverage options to handle the challenges of our new digital world.