The City of Casey has launched its first Digital Equity Framework to improve digital equity and empowerment in the municipality.
Digital equity refers to ensuring everyone has fair access to the internet and other digital technology. While digital empowerment refers to having the access and ability to use the internet, smart devices and other technology, so everyone can thrive in the digital age.
The Framework is a priority driven by both the acceleration of people’s use and dependence on digital technologies since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the Outer South East region (of which Casey is part) having the lowest rates of digital inclusion across Greater Melbourne (Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2020).
Developed in consultation with Casey residents, businesses and community groups in June this year, the framework sets out guidelines and activities to deliver digital resources and infrastructure to improve online access, confidence and literacy across Casey.
City of Casey Chair of Administrators Noelene Duff PSM, said that all community members deserve fair access to digital resources and the associated benefits, which in turn builds digital empowerment and digital democracy.
“Council is committed to building digital equity in Casey through ensuring community members have access to digital tools, skills and the confidence needed for full and ongoing participation in our increasingly online society, democracy, and economy,“ said Ms Duff.
“Given the importance of digital channels in our lives, we hope Casey’s Digital Equity Framework will inspire other councils and government bodies to adopt a similar framework to increase the access, affordability and digital abilities for communities around Australia.”
As part of the Digital Equity Framework, initial activities include:
- Increasing internet access: identifying key locations to install free public wi-fi stations in Doveton to improve internet access in the area.
- Map free wi-fi points: creating an online map for Community Service Organisations, Schools and the general community to use to support people to find free public wi-fi across the city.
- Building digital skills: implementing a Digital Activation Program to overcome the vulnerable population’s social isolation and digital exclusion exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Digital Equity Framework is also a priority initiative of the Smart Casey Launchpad – a strategic approach to smart city action developed in consultation with the community in 2020. The launchpad guides how Council and the community can harness data, technology and innovation to build a connected, sustainable, inclusive and innovative community.
The Digital Equity Framework supports the launchpad’s focus area of Connecting Communities, which aims to ‘build digital connectivity to increase digital inclusion, participation in Council decision-making and community building.’
Throughout the development of the framework, a digital empowerment insights paper was developed to promote further conversations about how to embed actions and principles that enable communities to be empowered in the digital age.
In the coming months, Council will launch a Digital Equity Lab to test and pilot innovative ideas to increase digital access, affordability and abilities in the Casey community. If you or your organisation has an innovative idea that can build digital equity, please email email@example.com for more details.