April 13, 2024

Afrispa

Epicurean computer & technology

Contest aims to bridge digital divide by expanding computer access and literacy

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“The purpose is to come up with some actually excellent tasks that address the digital divide in Essex County,” said Stephanie Guyotte, associate director of Innovation Hub Haverhill. “It is also to inspire entrepreneurship by offering people a platform to start an plan and sources to transfer it forward.”

She said proposed methods may well incorporate initiatives to teach seniors how to engage with telehealth expert services, create new group WiFi places, and provide digital units for youthful small children to do their school function remotely.

The contest is open to all, which include large college and college pupils. Applicants need to post their suggestions by March 23. Up to 10 of them will be picked to pitch their proposals to a panel of judges on April 27. The a few or 4 picked as winners will share in $10,000 in prize cash together with cost-free mentoring and other help to implement their ideas in the summer season and slide.

Innovation Hub is a business incubator and co-performing area UMass Lowell operates on its Haverhill and Lowell campuses. The Digital Fairness Challenge is staying administered at the iHub in Haverhill, which is element of Essex County, the foundation’s assistance location.

In the wake of its report, the foundation last June joined with 140 associate corporations to launch a a few-year electronic equity initiative. The $2.5 million hard work aims to connect 15,000 Essex County residents with cost-free or economical Internet obtain, educate electronic expertise to 1,000 individuals and business house owners, and deliver 5,000 county people with trustworthy products.

Guyotte, who is taking part in the broader initiative, contacted the basis past 12 months to suggest the challenge, and the group promptly embraced the thought. The foundation is funding the $10,000 prize income and other contest costs.

“We’re always wanting for options that appear from the communities,” said Kate Machet, the foundation’s director of strategic initiatives. “We hope this contest conjures up entrepreneurial collaboration to tackle all these problems.”

Nevertheless deficiency of accessibility to electronic technological innovation is generally noticed as a rural situation, the foundation’s report — produced with Tufts University — showed the difficulty has an effect on even congested cities, said Stratton Lloyd, the foundation’s government vice president.

“Some rural spots have no access, but a lot of individuals listed here never have entry,” he reported, noting that quite a few persons are not able to manage Online assistance, or — specially in the scenario of seniors — lack the techniques to use computers or the Net. Several also live in buildings in which Net assistance is restricted or spotty.

The report found that “cities struggling the most with digital accessibility tend to be the most economically disadvantaged, such as Lawrence, Lynn, and Peabody.”

Guyotte claimed UMass Lowell witnessed digital inequity firsthand in the course of the worst of the pandemic, when some pupils “didn’t have a way to reliably access the World-wide-web to do their courses at property.”

Also partnering in the problem is UMass Lowell’s Rist DifferenceMaker Institute, which trains and mentors learners seeking remedies to social difficulties, and EforAll Lowell, which assists space residents start enterprises.

Acquiring entry to digital engineering and the skills to use it are “so critical to knowing your likely as an person in culture,” Lloyd mentioned, noting that they are now necessary for responsibilities ranging from making use of for housing to trying to get unemployment insurance plan. “Digital capability is no longer a privilege, it is a proper.”

For a lot more info on the Digital Equity Problem, go to uml.edu/digitalequity.

John Laidler can be attained at [email protected].

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