Governor Lamont Releases Draft State Digital Equity Plan
Public Comment Sought on Five-Year Strategy To Improve Resident Quality of Life by Addressing Technology Access, Affordability, Training, and Support
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services’ Commission for Educational Technology has released “Connecticut: Everyone Connected,” the state’s draft digital equity plan. Funding to support the plan comes from the Biden-Harris administration’s Internet for All Initiative, which was created as part of the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will make the state eligible for implementation funds to expand Connecticut residents’ access to affordable, high-speed internet, devices, and training.
The draft plan – as well as executive summaries available in English and Spanish – have been published online at ct.gov/DigitalEquity.
This release begins a 30-day public comment period, during which residents can submit their feedback through that website, by emailing DigitalEquity@ct.gov, or by calling the State Digital Equity comment line at 860-622-2032. All comments must be received by January 20, 2024. The commission will consider all feedback and make revisions to the plan before finalizing it by the end of March 2024.
The draft plan complements broader state, regional, and local strategic plans and will take place in close coordination with other broadband efforts, such as the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program overseen by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
“Connecticut has taken significant steps to close the digital divide in our state,” Governor Lamont said. “The goals in the ‘Everyone Connected’ plan extend that work, from connections and computers to training and support that help improve the lives of all residents.”
To develop the plan over the past year, the commission has engaged more than 7,000 Connecticut residents and conducted in-depth research into the barriers to technology access. The draft plan will help ensure that all Connecticut residents can benefit from life in the digital world for learning, career advancement, telehealth, and leveraging state services. Consistent with federal guidance, the plan emphasizes the needs of traditionally disenfranchised groups, including residents at or below 150% of the poverty line, racial and ethnic minorities, the aging, those incarcerated in or in transition out of state correctional facilities, individuals with disabilities or language barriers, those living in rural areas, and veterans.
Goals of the plan include:
- Developing and promoting digital skills and technical support programs that directly serve residents;
- Ensuring residents have options for getting online that are affordable and meet their needs; and
- Expanding digital government services at the state and local levels.
“Across state agencies, we are moving services online, giving residents a choice in how and when they access programs,” Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Michelle Gilman said. “This plan will help make sure everyone has the connection, device, and skills to take advantage of those services.”
“Connecting homes and businesses with affordable access to high-speed Internet service is the first step to providing Internet for All,” Alan Davidson, U.S. secretary of commerce for communications and information and administrator the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said. “Bridging the digital divide also means equipping everyone in America with the devices and digital skills they need to succeed online. I salute Governor Lamont and the Commission for Educational Technology for moving one step closer to a better-connected Connecticut.”
“The draft plan reflects more than a year of research, outreach, and collaboration to understand what gets in the way of residents accessing and effectively using digital tools,” Mark Raymond, Connecticut’s chief information officer and chair of the Commission for Educational Technology, said.
“In a technology-rich, innovative state like Connecticut, everyone should have the tools and skills they need to thrive,” Doug Casey, executive director of the Commission for Educational Technology, said. “’Everyone Connected’ will address unseen barriers – beyond the ‘boxes and wires’ of computers and connections, as important as they are – to address affordability and availability of support.”
“We have seen firsthand how trusted, local partners in libraries and community centers can help residents take advantage of digital tools for advancement,” Digital Equity Program Manager Lauren Thompson said. “Our plan will expand on that impressive work to open opportunities for everyone in Connecticut.”
To download the draft plan and provide feedback, visit ct.gov/DigitalEquity.