Bill Callahan, Director of Digital Vision, reports data on the "Digital Divide"

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sat, 07/09/2005 - 23:04.

Bill Callahan, Director of Digital Vision (a coalition of organizations in Cleveland, Ohio working to eliminate the "digital divide" in our city), has posted to his blog an analysis of the extent of the digital divide in Cleveland, and the findings are disturbing... "the percentage of Cleveland households in the sample with active Internet connections may be as low as 40%". The numbers for many sectors of our society are much lower. There is not a simple solution to this problem - not just a wi-fi mesh, or neighborhood computing centers, or school labs, or libraries - there is a need as a community to say that we are all committed to help each resident who wants to participate in the new economy to cross the digital divide, and help in every way every step of the way. Read on about the current state of the divide in Cleveland, and consider how you may make a difference:

CLEVELAND'S DIGITAL DISCONNECT: The data, provided to Digital Vision by Scarborough Research,
is from interviews with more than 300 Cleveland residents, 18 and
older, conducted in 2004-2005. While it's not a perfect random sample
of the city's adult population, Scarborough says the sample is
"stable", i.e. the margin of error is reasonable. Here are some of the
highlights:

Barely half of the city residents interviewed use the Internet at all,
from anywhere -- home, work, library, etc. Only 41% say they've gone on
line from home in the previous month. (55% live in households that have
computers.) The percentage of Internet users is slightly lower for
African-American respondents than for whites, and significantly lower
for respondents "of Hispanic origin".

Of respondents who haven't gone to college, only 34% are Internet users. (Three out of five Cleveland adults fit this description.)

Among respondents with household incomes below $25,000 (that's half of all Cleveland households) only 30% are Internet users.

While the data doesn't say it directly, I infer that the percentage of Cleveland households in the sample with active Internet connections may be as low as 40%. One out of five respondents say they have DSL or cable modems at home.

All in all, Scarborough's data reveals a Cleveland that's still, mostly, not on the Net.

The
Scarborough sample is somewhat short on people from the lowest
education and income cohorts, compared to their presence in Cleveland's
census numbers. So, if anything, the real picture is probably a little
bleaker than the numbers above suggest.