Closing the Digital Divide One Step at a Time

Twenty-two percent of adults living in rural areas do not use the Internet. That’s according to a 2016 Pew Research study. The findings fueled the work of Dr. Roberto Gallardo, Executive Director of the MSU Intelligent Community Institute, who is focused on what he’s dubbed the “Rural Divide,” more commonly referred to as the Digital Divide.

On Thursday, May 4, 2017, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) hosted its Global Institute for the Study of the Intelligent Community at the Dublin Integrated Education Center in Columbus, Ohio. At the workshop, Gallardo explained his method for answering the question, “How can we dial toward a more connected community?” In other words, how can communities transition into and benefit from the digital age?

To start, Gallardo defined his vision for more intelligent communities. This means a given area has broadband connectivity, a knowledgeable workforce, digital equality and more—such as innovation and sustainability. Gallardo highlighted the importance of trust between broadband community leaders and the people living within the community. He states, “Trust is critical for communities…no community likes to hear that they’re missing out on a digital trend.” In order for this to happen a community must get local, trusted boots-on-the-ground, visiting and interacting with the communities themselves.

But he emphasizes that the number one driving force is community—the passion of a town or city’s leaders and members to create change and improve. For Gallardo, that means having an awareness of what needs to change and how to engage and inform those living in the area.

To understand more of Dr. Roberto Gallardo’s work and initiative for intelligent communities visit the MSU Intelligent Community Institute website or watch the below video.