The City’s digital inclusion initiatives focus on the technology needs of the most underserved neighborhoods and communities including seniors, disabled, low-income and limited-English speaking populations.
Access to information technology is increasingly necessary to obtain employment, education opportunities, health information and city services. Yet an estimated 12% of San Francisco households do not access the Internet at home, according to the 2013 City Survey. The lack of technology access is especially acute in certain neighborhoods and populations.
The Department of Technology (DT) and its predecessor Department of Telecommunications and Telecommunications (DTIS) have sought to coordinate the effort amongst City agencies and public and private partners.
Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP), Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA) Grant has enabled the City to launch an ambitious digital inclusion program. The program has focused on youth technology, digital media, digital literacy for seniors and adults with disabilities and on-line business formation training.
Under the BTOP Grant the Department of Technology’s digital media/youth technology program has:
- Awarded grants to 14 organizations including, all 8 Beacon Centers, 2 City College departments, BAVC, BAYCAT, Streetside Stories, and the Vietnamese Youth Development Center.
- Grant awards fund technology coordinators, instructors, and new labs (computers, software, and related digital media equipment) to provide training and community access.
- Served 2,500 unduplicated participants between January – March 2013, with an average of over 15 hours of training per participant.
- Provided 600 classes to youth and adults in subjects like digital media, basic computer literacy, online academic enrichment and credit recovery, and online home-based business training. Digital media skills include: video and music production, photography and Photoshop, animation, video game design, and website design.
- Conducted 172,000 total training hours, current as of March 31, 2013.
Under the leadership of the Department of Aging and Adult Services with the assistance of the Department of Technology the seniors and adults with disabilities program has:
- Deployed 234 computers to 54 sites which are located in senior centers, adult day services centers, supportive housing sites and San Francisco Housing Authority buildings.
- Conducted 1,840 computer and internet classes totaling 50,310 training hours completed in English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean.
- 1,840 Computer Classes conducted in English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean.
- Engaged over 23,500 hours of volunteer service.
In May of 2006, the Mayor’s Office and DTIS convened the TechConnect Task Force consisting of fifteen community leaders representing community-based, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations and local businesses. Over six months of public meetings, the Task Force outlined the technology needs of the City's underserved communities and existing community resources. DTIS also met with community leaders and members of the public at community and neighborhood events, and held workshops to find out their needs and aspirations for the initiative.
DTIS integrated the Task Force's and community input into a citywide Digital Inclusion Strategy which was released in January 2007. Since then DTIS has worked with a number of City agencies, businesses and nonprofit organizations to implement this strategy and develop the Digital Inclusion programs.