Building Resiliency to COVID-19 by Closing the Digital Divide in Native American Communities

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Abstract: Too often, people think of broadband projects only in terms of communications and computers. Citizen engagement is at least as important as any technology to develop and sustain effective capabilities. The purpose of this project is to support Tribal engagement for the purpose of creating digital opportunity among Tribal Nations. We begin by listening, focusing first on understanding the needs of people and what digital opportunities can meet their needs. The need for enhanced digital opportunity has taken on new urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the need to support online social services ranging from education to DMV appointments. In a collaborative effort led by the People-Centered Internet and supported by Althea Corporation and C-RASC, the project team will work with Tribal leaders to understand their needs from their perspective, to support them in building momentum within their communities, and to follow up to keep systems operational. Mason’s role will consist of: (1) providing the design, production, and assessment criteria for pilot micro-courses delivered via video segments; (2) supporting the creation, documentation, and development into a replicable model of a “help desk” that provides expertise in technology, community engagement, and end user training; and (3) conducting and documenting one or more case studies based on the activities undertaken in this project.