The City of Pittsburgh, along with Allegheny County, Pa., has launched the Pittsburgh Digital Equity Coalition (PDEC), which is tasked with producing and implementing a five-year plan to close the digital divide in the region by the end of 2027.

“Today is a great day for the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County; today we break down silos and commit to a partnership to end the digital divide in our region by 2027,” said Mayor Ed Gainey. “We will work together, united – with the city, county, our foundations, nonprofits, and the private sector – with one mission: to connect our entire city and close the digital divide.”

The PDEC is comprised of representatives from the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Allegheny County Housing Authority, Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, Neighborhood Allies, Literacy Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Regional Transit, the University of Pittsburgh, Meta Mesh Wireless Communities, the Greater Pittsburgh Digital Inclusion Alliance, Computer Reach, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and A+ Schools.

“Our community always does its best when we work together, collaboratively, bringing all of our resources together to solve challenges, and the digital divide is no exception,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “We are grateful to the many organizations which have answered this call and will work with us to ensure that we are able to increase broadband access, particularly in senior, Black and Brown communities.”

The PDEC will focus on closing the digital divide by ensuring reliable, robust broadband internet for all residents at a price point they can afford; access to a computing device that meets the needs of the end-users; education to develop digital skills to safely and securely use the internet for resident needs; and accessible technical support when technology breaks. The PDEC expects to publish its five-year plan in the 2nd quarter of 2023.

To achieve its goals, the PDEC will meet every few weeks to build a detailed playbook for closing the digital divide in Pittsburgh in five years. The playbook will describe the history of the digital divide in Pittsburgh; map the work that has already been done by local organizations; outline actions that must be taken to ensure everyone has access to affordable internet service, user-relevant computers, and the skills to safely and securely use the internet; and set the stage to apply for Federal digital equity grant dollars to make the plan a reality.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs