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How Can Universities Help Close the Digital Divide?

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Slow or unreliable Internet access is a reality for millions of Americans.

Credit: Ben Dalton/Flickr

With Internet connectivity now viewed as a public necessity for telework and education, universities across the U.S. are partnering with local governments and community organizations on initiatives to expand broadband access and close the digital divide once and for all.

Much of these efforts involve working with local and state leaders to identify areas most in need of resources, which was the focus at Purdue University's Center for Regional Development, where officials created data tools such as Purdue's Digital Divide Index to identify key barriers to technology adoption in regions throughout Indiana. According to Director Roberto Gallardo, the aim is to pinpoint where the digital divide is most pronounced, as well as its main causes and strategies to close it.

"We generate a lot of information to turn around and help communities better understand their digital landscape," he said. "This is to understand which areas of their communities have a higher share of homes without devices, a higher share of homes relying on data only.

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