In this session, the speakers provided an overview of digital divide research and engagement to date in Calgary and highlighted the barriers and challenges that have emerged. They highlighted current small projects underway and engage participants in a conversation on their perceptions of potential solutions to address and mitigate barriers to digital access for those most impacted.
The digital divide, the disparity in access to information and information and communication technologies (ICTs) across different groups of the community, is not new. Some might say this inequities have always been present. What has recently changed is the accelerated pace by which technology and digital access have been normalized in all aspects of people’s lives. The accelerated pace has highlighted, more than ever, the challenges experienced by some groups in our society and the impact this lack of digital access has on those groups who are being excluded.
The City of Calgary is coordinating and facilitating the development of a collective, community approach to ensure Calgarians are able to enhance their digital access and participate in our community, economy and society to build a collective, community approach to ensure Calgarians have the hardware, access and digital literacy skills they need to fully engage and participate online in our community, economy and society.
Erin Ruttan is a Project Manager with the City of Calgary Smart City team focusing on building a Digital Equity Strategy. Erin’s background in social programming, public engagement, and gender equity helps her to better understand the intersectionality of the digital divide.
Robert Wiles is an Issue Strategist with Community Strategies. Robert has a social work background and his more recent portfolio has focused on issues related to poverty and City of Calgary subsidy programs.