AR Briefly

Arkansas broadband office launches survey to gauge digital savvy

By: - July 17, 2023 5:51 pm

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The Arkansas State Broadband Office recently launched its Digital Skills and Opportunity Survey as part of an effort to better understand the state’s digital divide.

Arkansas received more than $840,000 in federal funds through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to study the state’s digital divide, create a plan to address its digital skills gap and learn more about the challenges that keep Arkansans from affording and using high-speed internet. 

This is in addition to a $5 million investment to create a five-year action plan for internet access, according to a press release.

“Building out broadband access to every single home and business in the state of Arkansas is only one piece of the puzzle,” Arkansas State Broadband director Glen Howie said in a statement. “To positively impact lives for the better, we must see to it that all Arkansans are empowered with the digital skills and resulting opportunities to take full advantage of universal broadband access.”

The survey asks about how and why people use the internet, and the challenges they experience; collected data will inform the Arkansas Digital Skills and Opportunity Plan. The plan will be available for public comment in the fall, and a final version is due by mid-November to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

ASBO has contracted with Heartland Forward, a Bentonville-based nonprofit organization, to coordinate engagement efforts with stakeholders. In addition to disseminating surveys online and in paper formats, officials will also host a series of community listening sessions, focus groups and interviews to engage with communities targeted through the plan, according to a press release. 

“Ensuring that all Arkansans have the digital skills essential for the 21st Century digital economy is critical for our state’s future success,” Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Hugh McDonald said in a statement. “Understanding – and eliminating – the digital skills gap is an important element in developing the state’s workforce and providing a brighter future for Arkansans.”


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Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is a multimedia journalist who has reported since 2007 on a wide range of topics, including politics, health, education, immigration and the arts for NPR affiliates, print publications and digital platforms. A University of Arkansas alumna, she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and a master’s degree in documentary film.