Baltimore's Digital Divide And How To Fix It | WYPR

Baltimore's Digital Divide And How To Fix It

May 28, 2020

Kids can no longer access the internet at libraries, which remain closed.
Credit Howard Co. Library/Creative Commons

Since the start of the pandemic several months ago, many of us have been working from home, ordering our groceries online, and Zooming with friends.  Kids are learning remotely.  It’s the new normal, right? 

If the pandemic has changed the way you do just about everything, consider yourself lucky. What about our neighbors who don’t have a computer or a reliable way to access the internet? They are more cut off than ever, and their children fall behind when teachers are livestreaming lessons and asking kids to upload homework.

Why is it that 40% of Baltimore residents lack broadband access to the internet?  In a city where red-lining in housing has a long history, has red-lining moved from the street to the internet? 

We begin with Dr. John Horrigan.  He’s the author of a new report for the Abell Foundation that describes the impact of Baltimore’s Digital Divide on low-income city residents. Dr. Horrigan is a senior fellow at the Technology Policy Institute. 

Then, Chrissie Powell and Andrew Coy join the conversation.  Powell is the Baltimore site director of Byte Back, Inc., a tech-inclusion nonprofit that offers free technical skills classes for adult learners.  Coy is the executive director of the Digital Harbor Foundation, which teaches coding and other computer and tech skills to K-12 students.  They are both leaders of the Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition, which includes about 50 groups that are working together to reduce our city’s Digital Divide.