Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Building a digitally inclusive Dodge City

  • What would Dodge City look like if all community members had access to and knew how to use information technology?
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  • What would Dodge City look like if all community members had access to and knew how to use information technology?
    The concept of digital inclusion is defined as the ability of individuals and groups to access and use information and community technologies. And the idea of building a digitally inclusive Dodge City could lead to a future with increased integration across cultures, more community involvement, and an improved quality of life, according to a group of community stakeholders evaluated Wednesday.
    Dodge City was selected to receive funding to have the University of Illinois Center for Digital Inclusion come to Dodge City to spearhead a community-wide coalition to ensure Dodge City's community members have access to and understanding of how to use information technology. Cathy Reeves, director of the Dodge City Public Library, Jane Longmeyer, public relations manager for the city, and Greta Clark, professor and director of multicultural education at Dodge City Community College are leading the local process.
    The objective of the project is to stimulate community-wide discussion and planning efforts to create and stupport healthy, prosperous and cohesive 21st century communities.
    To gather information, a series of stakeholder alignment meetings were scheduled this week at the library and included representatives from community-based organizations such as Arrowhead West and the Depot Theater as well as individuals from Dodge City Community College and city government, among others. During Wednesday's meeting, the group was asked to identify ways Dodge City encourages community members' access and use of the internet and technology. The group spoke positively of the presence of numerous public and private open wi-fi "hotspots" as well as the prominent use of technology in Dodge City schools. It was also determined that the city provides residents with digital services to help them stay informed.
    And although Dodge City has done an overall good job of upgrading and gives residents a reason to be online through websites such as dodgecityhasjobs.com, challenges still exist.
    In order to achieve full community access and use of information technology, the city is faced with overcoming barriers of cost, relevance, and digital skills. For many Dodge City residents, the internet is not seen as needed in daily life. Others do not trust the digital world. According to national data, one in five American's don't use the internet at all and four in 10 do not have home broadband service.
    In addition to mastering those roadblocks, the city will have to bridge a gap in both age and cultural demographics.
    A main goal identified by stakeholders was to align the broader goals of community organizations with the digital world, potentially reaching the goals faster. More meetings on building a digitally inclusive Dodge City are scheduled to continue today, with the final data being tabulated and presented May 17.
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