Having access to and knowledge of digital devices and internet use opens up community economic development prospects, and a new report from the Mississippi State University Extension Service offers county-level insights.
The Intelligent Community Institute released the Digital Divide Index to increase awareness of the factors influencing connectivity and how those factors differ across the state. Infrastructure and socioeconomic factors were combined to create a county-level index score. Higher scores indicate a larger digital divide — or greater need for access to technology — and greater deficiencies in the digital literacy skills needed to find the relevant technology, or both.
Roberto Gallardo, associate Extension professor and leader of the Intelligent Community Institute, said the report is designed for policymakers, community leaders and all Mississippi residents.
“The digital divide is the No. 1 threat to community economic development in the 21st century,” Gallardo said. “Public policy 101 says that to explore solutions, the issue must be defined first. This index attempts to define this serious issue and to jumpstart conversations on how to reduce the divide.”
To access the report, visit ici.msucares.com/ddi.