The city of Detroit has announced new milestones in its efforts to close the digital divide and improve digital equity in the city. Specifically, the city is using its “Certified Tech Hub” initiative to ensure residents can easily determine where they can access digital resources, literacy training, and internet-connected devices.

“Equitable access to high-speed internet and digital literacy tools can mean the difference between success and failure for our residents, whether they’re working on schoolwork, finding a job, or navigating workforce training tools,” said Deputy Mayor Todd Bettison. “Ensuring our seniors have a place to go to learn how to use the tools they need to keep up in today’s world is also important to us. Director Burkette is doing a great job meeting Detroiters where they are.”

The impetus for the initiative began in early 2023 when Christine Burkette took over as the city’s digital equity and inclusion director. Burkette said she took a deep dive into what resources were available for Detroit residents and found that when it came to residents accessing digital resources and tools at neighborhood locations across the city, not every location was able to meet residents’ needs, and some listed online as community tech hubs were not open to the public. The city noted that back then there were more than 100 locations listed as tech hubs in Detroit.

As a result of these inaccuracies, the city launched the City of Detroit Certified Tech Hub initiative with the goal of providing residents with one central location to search and find the closest Certified Tech Hub near them and learn which digital equity resources each tech hub provides.

The city has recently announced the first eight City of Detroit “Certified Tech Hubs,” which all provide free Wi-Fi, have devices available for residents’ use, offer basic digital literacy training software, and are considered a safe environment.

Additionally, the city noted that each Tech Hub is also assessed to determine whether it provides specific digital equity resources and tools – a device loaner program, IT workforce training, wheelchair accessibility, tech support, and ESL resources – so residents know which hub will best fit their needs before they go. To help residents find Certified Tech Hubs, the city has also launched a new interactive map on the City of Detroit’s Office of Digital Equity and Inclusion website.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs