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File #: 1793-2020    Version: 1
Type: Ordinance Status: Passed
File created: 7/20/2020 In control: Technology Committee
On agenda: 7/27/2020 Final action: 7/30/2020
Title: : To authorize the Director of the Department of Technology to enter into agreements with Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and Franklin County Educational Service Center (ESCCO) for broadband access and learning devices to 10,000 students; to authorize the expenditure of $1,500,000.00 in federal CARES Act Funding to reimburse Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and Franklin County Educational Service Center (ESCCO) for the above; and to declare an emergency. ($1,500,000.00)
Sponsors: Rob Dorans, Elizabeth Brown
Attachments: 1. 1793-2020 EXP, 2. CoC_MORPC_ESCCO_MOUv4.pdf
Explanation
BACKGROUND:
This ordinance authorizes the City of Columbus, Department of Technology, to enter into an agreement with Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and Franklin County Educational Service Center (FCESC) hereinafter referred to as MORPC and ESCCO. Under the terms of the agreement, or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the City will reimburse MORPC and ESCCO $1,500,000.00 in federal CARES Act Funding for broadband access and learning devices to 10,000 students.

According to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), digital inclusion refers to "the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of information and communication technologies. "This includes but is not limited to affordable internet, internet-enabled devices, digital literacy training, and technical support. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Franklin County struggled with disparties in access to digital technology. Furthermore, Columbus is well above the national average in two key statistics (households that did not have access to fiber optic broadband (e.g., cable) and households that had no access to broadband of any type (e.g., cellular data, "hotspot" device), which indicates our region is lagging behind similarly sized cities/regions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made digital inclusion an even more pressing issue - Americans are working from home in unprecedented numbers, and most school-aged children are expected to utilize some form of remote education. Lack of a fast, reliable, and affordable internet connection and an appropriate device to access the internet makes everyday life extremely difficult, and only compounds existing structural inequities in our community. The number of families in Franklin County without internet access is unacceptably high. Both a short-term/COVID-19 related response and a long-term strategy are necessary to reduce and eliminate historical, insti...

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