While the City of Philadelphia has worked on digital equity  for over fifteen years, the COVID-19 pandemic created the need for more resources and a comprehensive strategic plan. Technology became a critical part of daily life for residents—through working from home, virtual learning, telehealth, and more.  

The Digital Equity Plan aims to help Philadelphia reach a baseline of digital equity over the next five years. The three key pillars of digital equity are: internet access, devices, and digital literacy. 

Goals and Strategies

The Digital Equity Plan has four key goals with strategies for support. 

  • Goal 1: Philadelphians can access appropriate and affordable technology. 
    • Key strategies: 
      • Increase bulk purchasing and grants for devices. 
      • Develop and support a network of Public Computer Centers (PCCs). 
      • Expand computer recycling, refurbishing, and community tech support. 
  • Goal 2: Philadelphians can access and afford the internet connectivity they need. 
    • Key strategies: 
      • Establish sustainable household-based models for internet subsidies. 
      • Facilitate sustainable community-based networks to increase public Wi-Fi and free or low-cost broadband. 
      • Encourage the expansion of high-quality, low-cost broadband subscription options. 
  • Goal 3: Philadelphians develop the digital skills necessary for work and life. 
    • Key strategies: 
      • Provide community-based Digital Navigation services across the city. 
      • Build a system of Digital Literacy providers. 
      • Align digital literacy assessments, curriculum, and training across Philadelphia providers. 
      • Ensure multilingual outreach and programs are available to residents. 
  • Goal 4: Philadelphia grows and sustains the capacity and infrastructure required to increase digital equity. 
    • Key strategies:  
      • Build capacity in city government to advance digital equity. 
      • Establish regular data collection for strategic planning. 
      • Seed capacity for non-City entities to advance digital equity. 
      • Establish and promote best practices for software applications and tools. 

What’s next?

Championing digital equity will continue to be a part of Philadelphia’s digital equity work. Three specific objectives that will support the City’s goals: 

  • Funding programs that support digital equity across Philadelphia, including PHLConnectED, Digital Navigators, public computing centers, digital literacy courses, and more; 
  • Engaging with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania about Philadelphia’s digital equity needs—especially when it comes to distribution of federal dollars; and 
  • Forming public-private partnerships that encourage businesses and organizations to take part in digital equity and highlighting how overcoming the digital divide will benefit all of Philadelphia.