KC Library & SHLB Coalition Publish New Study on the Digital Divide in Kansas City

Kansas City has been a national leader in promoting digital inclusion ever since it became the first Google Fiber city in 2011. Kansas City created the Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion, and KC Digital Drive has hosted several events highlighting the city's high-tech growth. Yet the impact of these activities on residential broadband adoption, especially among low-income families, was not clear.

The SHLB Coalition and the Kansas City Public Library joined together to commission a study by Dr. John Horrigan to analyze how much progress Kansas City has made in solving the DIgital Divide. By analyzing data in the American Community Survey and comparing Kansas City to 10 other comparable cities, Dr. Horrigan found that Kansas City's broadband adoption grew faster than many comparable cities over the past 6 years. He also found that Kansas City's overall broadband adoption rate was now equivalent to the national average but was below the national average for low-income families (those earning less than $20,000 per year).

His report recommends several steps to promote greater broadband adoption, such as i) integrating digital inclusion into efforts to reduce poverty, ii) encouraging Internet providers to offer affordable rates for low-income families, iii) encourage libraries and other anchor institutions to conduct digital literacy training, and iv) foster partnerships with community institutions that can increase the awareness of discount Internet service plans.

The SHLB Coalition and the Kansas City Public Library encourage greater research to examine what other cities have done to promote broadband adoption and to present these findings to policy-makers around the country.

-- John Windhausen