News Flash

Marketing & Communications

Posted on: April 16, 2021

Committee Seeking Input for Digital Equity Plan

A broad-based local committee is working with a consulting firm to develop a “digital equity plan” for Forsyth County and is asking residents to assist their efforts by taking a short survey about their internet access.

The Forsyth County Digital Equity Committee was formed in November with the goal of developing a plan to ensure that every household in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County has reliable, speedy access to the internet and the digital services that this enables. 

The committee comprises representatives of more than 30 public and private organizations, agencies and individuals committed to bridging the digital divide in Forsyth County, said Tom Kureczka, the city’s chief information officer and a member of the eight-person planning committee that is guiding the initiative.

“As we all know, the world has become more IT-centered, with remote schooling, remote working, remote healthcare, court cases, etc.,” Kureczka said, using the abbreviation for information technology. “And what’s happened over the past year has made clear the need for uniform, broad-band internet access throughout the city and the county.”

According to 2015-2019 American Community Survey compiled by the Census Bureau, 14,400 households in Forsyth County – 10 percent – have no computer device of any kind. In addition, 9.5 percent of households in the county can access the internet only with a smart phone.

The survey, available under the “Take Action” link at FCDigitalEquity.org, will help committee members get a current picture of the state of digital access throughout the county. It asks about residents’ experience with the internet and includes an option to have their internet connection speed measured.

The survey is part of a community outreach plan the committee is putting together. Other components will include public meetings, interviews and outreach through social media.

Margaret Robinson, a community leader also on the planning committee, said that community input is important to ensure the plan addresses the digital barriers that individuals face. “We want to hear from our community. They are the experts in what has kept them from being able to fully participate in the digital world so far.”

The committee hopes to have a draft of a digital equity plan in place by the end of May. It would include strategies to achieve digital equity by extending broadband access to all corners of the city and county. It also would outline the resources and actions necessary to implement the plan.

A/R360 Consultants LLC, a consulting firm based in Washington, D.C., is working with the committee to develop the plan. Financing for the initiative is being provided by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and N.C. Department of Information Technology. 

In addition to Kureczka and Robinson, the planning committee includes representatives from Forsyth Futures, the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem, Wake Forest University, WinstonNet, the Winston-Salem Foundation and Winston-Salem State University.

For more information visit FCDigitalEquity.org.


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