Communities across the state are figuring out how to address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizations involved in our ReCONNECT to Technological Opportunity forum community cohort have suddenly found their work on broadband connectivity and digital inclusion at the forefront of local, state, and national conversations. Here are a few ways they’re helping in the wake of this crisis.
Charlotte Digital Inclusion Alliance
CDIA is made up of multiple organizations in Mecklenburg County and they have all been working hard in response to COVID-19. They found that one of the immediate needs is digital literacy. Digital Charlotte has launched a resource page, hosted multiple livestream discussions on various topics, and are launching virtual office hours for digital literacy support. Central Piedmont Community College has supported their students, faculty, and staff by handing out Chromebooks and hotspots via a drive-thru system. CPCC has also created tutorials on how to use remote learning software to help both professors and students transition.
City of Wilson and RIoT
Wilson has their own fiber-optic network, Greenlight Community Broadband, and they have worked with the school system to map out where there was no internet access and added hot spots to those areas, allowing students to connect to school. Individuals can find the hotspot nearest to them using this map. Construction has continued on the Gig East Exchange, a new coworking space that will house the RIoT Accelerator Program. During this time they have highlighted local entrepreneurs, and you can watch one here.
The homework gap has been a focus of Digital Durham’s from the start, and now more than ever people are becoming aware of it. Partner organizations have worked to serve the community as much as possible, but also protect the health and safety of everyone. Kramden Institute was able to give out over 500 computers to students without access to one at home before they ran out.
Land of Sky Regional Council, WestNGN Broadband Initiative
The Land of Sky Regional Council spans Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania Counties and includes both rural and urban areas. Across the board they are working to have mobile hotspots in the area and also give out hotspots to high school seniors. Telehealth is also an issue they have been focusing on and how to make it accessible.
Wilkes Community College
Wilkes has been working on how to expand telework in the region, and now COVID-19 has made it a necessity. WCC has made their parking lots “learning lots” where students can access the internet if they do not have access at home. Internet co-ops are also working on making the internet accessible by teaming up with the local fire stations and making those hotspots.