Snohomish County in Washington has announced a $1.5 million investment from its federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation into a digital equity initiative operated Sno-Isle Libraries. This funding will expand the capacity of the library’s loanable computers with hot spots 750 devices and will also enhance the digital navigator program. The digital navigator program helps library users connect to the internet, troubleshoot tech issues, learn about online safety, and sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a federal discount broadband program for income-qualified households.
According to the Washington State Broadband Office, about 15% of households in the state do not have access to a desktop or laptop computer. Additionally, the ACP enrollment rate in Washington is only 26%, which is below the national average of 33%. Out of the 1,125,000 eligible households in the state, less than 290,000 are enrolled in the ACP.
Executive Dave Somers highlighted the importance of addressing not only the lack of broadband access but also other barriers that contribute to broadband inequities, such as the lack of access to computers and the high price of internet services. The partnership with Sno-Isle Libraries aims to bridge the digital divide in the community providing increased access to technology and resources through the digital navigator program.
Sno-Isle Libraries plays a crucial role in providing internet access and technology to residents. Library cardholders can check out laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots. All 23 library locations offer free Wi-Fi access for communities to browse and stream the internet.
Executive Somers established the Office of Recovery and Resilience to ensure the efficient and equitable administration of federal pandemic relief. More information about Snohomish County’s recovery work can be found on their website.
Source: Snohomish County Government (no URL provided)