Detroits first director of digital inclusion helps a divided city get online

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This marketplace podcast is brought to you by ultimate software dedicated to putting people first with innovative solutions for h._r. Payroll and talent management learn more at ultimatesoftware dot com ultimate software people first and by smart water. Smart water is on a mission to add fresh thinking to the world. That's why they created two new ways to hydrate smart water alkaline alkaline with nine plus p. h. Helps keep you hydrated while you're on the move and smart water antioxidant with added selenium helps you find balance for your body and mind and now you can order smart water by saying hang alexa order smartwater yourself will thank yourself smart water. That's pretty smart to close the digital divide in detroit any more than just wirz from american public media. This is marketplace tech demystifying the digital economy. I'm jed kim in for molly would not having solid access to the internet is like competing in a three legged race tied to a cow looking for work. Most applications are online need to check your bank account. Pay bills dell's check medical records do homework. It's all easier if you're online and getting a lot harder if you're not detroit is one of the least connected big american cities according to the national digital inclusion alliance less than half of homes. There have broadband internet that means hundreds of thousands of detroiters stand stand on the losing side of a growing digital divide. It's judge edmunds job to help. Detroiters get online and so them why they need to. He's he's the city's first director of digital inclusion and he says the problem is in just infrastructure. We have several internet service providers and if you actually look at the provider data ninety eight to one hundred percent of detroit is covered with internet access. Sorry issue isn't necessarily internet access internet adoption meaning. What are the bears the technology adoption that are causing detroiters not to take advantage of getting into the home costing one of the big barriers. We look at poverty. Poverty directly exacerbates the digital divide something like the digital divide. That's maybe not well understood by. You know a lot of people a lot of times. When there's this kind of different understanding that there's often like a different language that's understood like is there any example of things that people say that somebody on the other side of the divide just wouldn't get yes when i was on focus groups with public housing residents in cleveland and we kept talking about applications like oh you know download an app download it up and <hes> people were thinking i was talking about job applications and that's such as light example but we've just taken technology and integrated it in and we get it but people don't this task does not sound easy and not cheap. What are you in the city gonna do to expand access us. I've identified five hundred sixty one free wifi sites all throughout the city of detroit that make money to do. I mean i'll be maybe my salary went to knowing. It and these aren't municipal networks. These are your mcdonald's or tim hortons that random nonprofit on the corner that church that has it if you go to any neighborhood where there's a lot of children and there's no library present and there's mcdonalds there. Those kids are going to mcdonald's to do their homework and i'm not saying that the city is saying go to mcdonalds and do your homework rather. It's very interesting to see the way that public wifi and free. Wi fi is driving people to certain places. I would say what's looming over. All of this is the fact that the census next year is going online and so when i have residents namely my older residents gordon were like no. I don't be like this. Are you know i don't feel comfortable during this. What are the implications around the sense. Uh being counted. There's a cast value that it every single resident has mike figure wrong but i believe every resident <hes> it's worth eighteen hundred dollars a year to the census so if you're not counted managing ask them locations around that joshua edmonds is the director of digital inclusion for the city of detroit. If you wanna see the city's digital divide on a map the university of michigan again put together an atlas of homes without computers without broadband with only a smartphone and just with cellular data. We've got a link on our site at marketplace place tech dot org and now for some related links dallas also ranks low when it comes to connectivity the dallas morning news says a._t. And t. has invested in better connectivity in areas with higher property values and not so much or not at all all in areas with lower values by the way eight hundred brought in twenty eight and a half billion dollars from internet service last year. The paper has an awesome interactive active features that shows the gap at pretty granular levels. Some hope the onset of five g. means a better chance to bridge the digital divide in rural areas and they're looking at the much celebrated oversee band of broadcasting spectrum. The f._c._c. may decide to free parts of the spectrum up for five g. Use the hill has an op ed from the president of the wireless internet service providers association he worries the band will just get divvied up among major communications companies this and wants a portion set aside for connecting rural areas. He doesn't seem too optimistic. That's the way congress is leaning. I'm jed kim and ad that's marketplace tech. This is a._p._m. 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