For Immediate ReleaseJanuary 27, 2022
San Rafael, CA – A new draft strategic plan to narrow the digital divide in Marin County and improve online connectivity is headed before the Marin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, February 1. The fact is that thousands enjoy strong internet access in the county, but thousands more do not.
The draft plan, available on the Board’s agenda and GoDigitalMarin.org, will be presented by the collaborative known as Digital Marin, an effort to develop a countywide roadmap to achieve digital equity for all. Magellan Advisors was contracted to help develop the draft plan with input from more than 3,000 Marin residents, business owners, community advocates, and employees from government, education, and other industries. In addition to the staff report, a presentation is available online as well.
Officially launched in December 2020, Digital Marin includes contributions from the Marin County Department of Information Services and Technology (IST). County IST and other County employees are part of the cross-sector effort to develop a strategic plan to address digital equity gaps, investigate infrastructure needs, identify opportunities for data sharing, and create efficiencies, resiliency, and digital service improvements across Marin.
In early December 2021, the Digital Marin team hosted an online community forum that centered on equitable access to the internet. The conversation included a review of the recent needs report that can be found on GoDigitalMarin.org. The research identified five geographic areas in Marin where the digital divide is experienced disproportionately: the Canal neighborhood of San Rafael, Marin City, two areas in Novato, and rural West Marin. All five are locations where population demographics show higher than average ethnic diversity. Also, older adults and people with disabilities are not as well connected online as other locals.
Findings in the needs report showed that lack of availability or competitive broadband options, inconsistent service levels and pricing, and other barriers exist to varying degrees throughout Marin, even in affluent areas.
Many topics at that December session were tied to the draft plan’s key strategies, such as making high-quality broadband available and accessible to everyone in Marin and expanding on the high local rate of digital adoption in daily life.
Access to high-speed internet, digital literacy, and devices is needed to end the digital divide. In the interest of community equity, the collaborative’s members are aiming for quality, affordable internet service and to make sure recipients know how to use it. They also want to make sure local networks and connections can survive a disaster.
Digital Marin, run by an 11-member steering committee from varied sectors in the community, wrapped up the draft strategic plan after issuing a community survey, convening focus groups, conducting interviews, and collecting sector-specific survey responses from various stakeholder groups.
Interested in getting involved? The community is invited to learn more at www.godigitalmarin.org and follow on Twitter @GoDigitalMarin.
For disability accommodations please phone (415) 473 2614 (Voice), CA Relay 711, or e-mail the Digital Marin staff in advance of the event. The County will do its best to fulfill requests received with less than five business days’ notice. Copies of documents are available in alternative formats, upon request.
Liza MasseyChief Information OfficerInformation Services and Technology Department
1600 Los Gamos DriveSuite 370San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-7050Email: Liza MasseyIST webpage