A broadband public comment session on the Hawaiʻi Digital Equity Plan and the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, which works in tandem to propose solutions for individuals and communities impacted by the “digital divide,” will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, October 27, at Maui Economic Opportunity Family Center, 99 Mahalani St. in Wailuku.
Residents are encouraged to sign up to participate at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1bP_jG3Bses2eu9yiiq6hWE8gHkprguCzr72gMrE_H8E/viewform?edit_requested=true. Residents can also participate virtually during an online public comment session on Nov. 2 at 9:30 a.m. on Zoom via the same link.
The Hawaiʻi Digital Equity Plan is a roadmap for digital equity access across the state for the next five years and addresses the digital divide for those who do not have reliable, affordable access to devices such as laptops and computers, training and the internet.
The isolation caused by the COVID pandemic uncovered numerous unmet needs among residents due to lack of access to digital resources. Digital inequity poses challenges connected to education, health care, jobs, and other basic services. This plan seeks to provide solutions to digital inequity, and proposes various ways we can address unmet needs.
The goal of the Digital Equity Plan is to promote digital equity and ensure that everyone, regardless of where they live, their income, language, age, race, any disability, or veteran status, has access to affordable devices, software, training, and reliable high-speed internet.
The University of Hawaiʻi is responsible for coordinating the BEAD program. The goal is to ensure high-speed broadband internet connectivity, especially in rural communities and other areas where internet service is extremely slow or uses outdated technology. The UH team will provide information on the BEAD program and opportunities for public input and engagement.
The University of Hawaii, in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism and County of Maui, is conducting the broadband public comment sessions to collect community feedback on the Digital Equity Plan and BEAD program goals.
Information on the BEAD program can be accessed via the UH Broadband for Hawaii website at https://www.hawaii.edu/broadband/. The Digital Equity Plan Final Draft can be accessed at https://app.box.com/s/r3q52b6kl1nv7p2xugs5lsoiiavd5fgu. Public comment on the plan will be accepted through October 31, 2023 via this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfjCYD6skpPCqAyX1Zd2D-kEQNp4S17TpUa2li0LUEK_p8L_g/viewform.
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