When the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, it transformed all of our lives. People were forced to work from home, students had to go to class online, and internet access became more important than ever. The City, recognizing that Philadelphia was looking at months of remote learning, launched PHLConnectED—a program that provides free internet to eligible pre-K12 households in need of reliable access.  

While PHLConnectED has enabled over 17,500 internet connections, we know there’s more work to be done. To address digital equity strategically, we had one key question: how many people still don’t have internet access or a reliable connection in Philadelphia? 

Enter: the Philadelphia Household Internet Assessment survey to analyze internet needs. 

An important survey 

The City is working with Wilco Electronic Systems and its team of partners to conduct a month-long survey to learn more about the digital access needs in Philadelphia. Wilco brought together a team that includes Centri Tech, SSRS, and national broadband expert John Horrigan to create, release, and analyze the survey data. 

This survey is about more than just gathering numbers. We want to understand how people view available internet options and barriers to internet access. We also want to make an easy, useful process for residents to get connected. Responses to the survey will help measure the progress of current programs and will help the City create policies and programs to support digital equity. 

The survey is over the phone and offered in six languages. If you receive a phone call to take this survey, take it—you’ll be helping Philadelphia overcome the digital divide by answering just a few simple questions. 

What’s the point?

The goals of this survey are to: 

  • Learn how many households do not have reliable broadband internet or devices at home; 
  • Examine whether households have taken advantage of pandemic programs to get internet services and computers; 
  • Explore whether people are satisfied with their online connection to carry out key tasks; 
  • Identify barriers to getting in-home internet access; and 
  • Understand affordability of service for households. 

The current public data about digital and internet access needs is outdated. To truly understand the digital divide in 2021, we need new data. The more people who take this survey, the better our future digital equity plans will be.  

Philadelphians can look out for a caller ID that either appears as “SSRS” or a local “267” number when receiving a call 

So, are you getting a call to take a survey about digital access needs in Philly? Take the time to participate—you’ll be helping residents across the city get the support they need. 

About the partners

Wilco is a Philadelphia-based telecommunications and systems integrator that has serviced multifamily housing developments and underserved communities for the past 40 years.  

Centri Tech, one of Wilco’s key partners, is a national social impact venture that aims to optimize technology to improve lives with a focus on serving people at home. Wilco and Centri Tech have joined forces to meet the needs of today’s housing communities and deliver both infrastructure—as well as impact—for underserved communities. 

John Horrigan is the former Research Director for the National Broadband Plan at the Federal Communications Commission. He is a nationally recognized expert in research into home broadband (in-home internet access) adoption. His past work focused on libraries, technology, and communities. 

SSRS, a non-partisan public opinion research firm based in Pennsylvania that conducts studies for clients such as news organizations, universities, foundations, and local government.