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Detroit appoints director of digital inclusion

Joshua Edmonds’ task is to reduce the digital divide. He says his goal is to make Detroit a national model for digital inclusion.

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Detroit has one of the highest rates of residents who lack access to computers
Detroit has one of the highest rates of residents who lack access to computers

The City of Detroit has appointed a director of digital inclusion, responsible for reducing the digital divide by developing strategies to expand access to computers and the internet to more citizens.

 

Joshua Edmonds previously oversaw deployment of more than $1.5 million in digital-inclusion investments for Cleveland, Ohio, through The Cleveland Foundation, the major community foundation for that city.

 

He will work with Detroit’s Department of Innovation and Technology to develop a city-wide strategy and develop methods to track and evaluate progress of the city’s efforts.

 

40 per cent lack broadband internet

 

The city currently has among the nation’s highest rates of residents who lack access to computers and the Internet. Studies have shown that as many as 40 per cent of Detroit residents don’t have access to broadband internet, even as broadband has become essential to employment opportunities, education, health care, news and information, shopping and social life.

 

“Not having access to the Internet is keeping too many Detroiters away from the information they need and opportunities they deserve,” said the city’s chief information officer, Beth Niblock. “I am thrilled to have a person with Joshua’s experience waking up every day focused solely on getting more Detroiters connected.”

 

In Cleveland, Edmonds’ role focused on building relationships with the private sector to fund programming aimed at bridging the digital divide in public housing. His work at the housing authority received national recognition from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“The recipe for successful digital inclusion in every city boils down to four things: partnerships, funding, engaged residents, and political will”

“My goal is to make Detroit a national model for digital inclusion,” said Edmonds. “The recipe for successful digital inclusion in every city boils down to four things: partnerships, funding, engaged residents, and political will. I believe Detroit has every one of those points in excess. I’m excited to build relationships and do something bold.”

 

Joint initiative

 

Edmonds’ position is in partnership with the University of Michigan with support from the John S and James L Knight Foundation. He is a digital inclusion policy fellow with U-M’s Detroit Partnership on Economic Mobility.

 

His role sits at the intersection of a joint effort by U-M’s Poverty Solutions Initiative and the City of Detroit to identify and implement concrete, evidence-based strategies that significantly improve economic opportunity and reduce poverty in Detroit.

 

He also previously served at the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, where he worked on President Obama’s ConnectHome initiative, a partnership among communities, the private sector and federal government to expand high speed broadband to more families across the country.

 

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