Digital Equity

Digital Equity

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, more learning, supports and services are going digital. This has increased the digital divide within communities across the nation as many people still do not have the technology access, tools, or skills they need to work, study or connect online.

What The City is doing

The more Calgarians are connected, the stronger the social and economic fabric of our community will be. Recognizing this and building on our Smart Cities and Resiliency work, The City of Calgary began work on a Digital Equity Strategy in spring 2021 to explore and road map how best to reduce the digital divide. 

Starting where we are

To truly understand our community’s unique needs and develop solutions that will work for Calgarians, we talked to service and advocacy groups both internally and externally to understand what systems and supports are currently in place for Calgarians. We gathered information on our city with a focus on:

  • what services or supports may be missing
  • where opportunities for improvement lay
  • what is working well

We also partnered with The University of Calgary to undergo research into academic and other jurisdictions to identify approaches that have been taken to address challenges and gaps of the digital divide. The information identified in this research helped to identify where Calgary sits globally on its current approach to reducing the digital divide as well as fine tune solutions and priorities identified through local conversation. 

Read the full report of what we have done to date.

What’s been happening

Research Partnership

At the start of 2022, The City of Calgary partnered with The University of Calgary through the Urban Alliance to undergo research into academic and other jurisdictions to identify approaches that have been taken to address challenges and gaps of the digital divide. This research was over seen by Dr Tanvir Turin Chowdhury with the final paper entitled Addressing Digital Equity and the Digital Divide serving to:

  • validate and add depth to the barriers we identified through conversations with community members
  • identify subpopulations that may be more impacted by the digital divide
  • identify where Calgary sits globally on its current approach to reducing the digital divide
  • suggest solutions and help prioritize actions previously identified through local conversation

The accompanying protocol paper for this research piece has been peer reviewed and will be published on The Journal of Medical Internet Research. 

Open North Case Study

Earlier this year the Digital Equity Team was asked to be a part of the Open North Case Study on Digital Equity initiatives being undertaken by various municipalities. The full article can be found here

Digital Literacy Audit Tool

The Digital Literacy Audit Tool was developed by Calgary Learns with input from the Digital Equity Team. This tool is intended to support organizations in reducing the digital divide by acknowledging what an organization is doing well, revealing unintended barriers in online services, and supporting all levels of access and skill. The tool can be found here.

Let’s bridge the digital divide together

With information in hand, we will work with support agencies and an advisory panel to determine next steps and build a roadmap forward to help make Calgary a more equitable place to live, work, play, and grow.

If you have any stories you would like to share on how you, your clients or your group have been affected by the move to a more digital environment, please reach out to Erin Ruttan, Project Manager, Information Technology or Robert Wiles, Issues Strategist, Calgary Neighbourhoods.

Digital Equity Strategy timeline