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Technology is moving fast. And for those who can’t keep up with it as it advances, they might be left behind. Begin able to keep up is especially important for students and those trying to navigate the business world.

In fact, almost 2.8 million Texas households lack broadband access. To bridge the gap between the haves and have nots, organizations such as the Dallas Innovation Alliance and CardBoard Project are hosting Get Connected-Dallas for the Oak Cliff community March 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at South Oak Cliff High School, located at 3601 S Marsalis Ave.

The event is designed to help individuals learn about access to devices, internet access, digital services, skills training and job training. It will also address barriers to digital access that impact education, job training and seeking connection of benefits and services such as health care.

“We’re super excited that the event is called Get Connected Dallas, and that’s the festival that celebrates all the ways that technology contributes to our life in all the different ways access to technology, education, and all that,” explained Jennifer Sanders, co-founder and executive director of the Dallas Innovation Alliance. “So there’s four main components such as live stage performances for the duration of the event. We’ve got a village with activities for the family, including DPS bringing their drone unit to do all the demonstrations and work with the kids outside, and food trucks from Sunnyside Park. And then inside we’ve got a job fair as well as a resource that covers all kinds of different components that affect our lives that require access to the internet, what they are, how to use them, how to access everything from affordable or free internet plans.”

DIA was founded in 2015 and its goal is for Dallas to become a “smart city.”

“Which is how we use technology and data with the community to find ways to solve problems and that we find innovative ways to solve pressing problems,” Sanders said. “So we work with partners across every kind of sector, so we work with public or private community organizations, and education institutions are really heavily focused on digital access, and inclusivity. So we do a lot of work around internet connectivity around digital skills, basically getting everyone connected to the internet resources, that is a whole bunch of programs.”

CARDBoard Project is a nonprofit organization founded in 2016 whose goal is to educate under-resourced communities about the importance of having access to the internet and assistance navigating and helping people learn about becoming self-sufficient.

Sanders said Dallas and its school district are ranked amongst the lowest in the country when it comes to technology and internet access.

“This is why there’s so much work to do in our backside,” she said. “Before the pandemic, we discovered that many Dallas houses do not have high speed internet between the city and their private sector, so we need to create affordable plans and make sure it is about increasing the options available. I think there’s work all over the country, so the dots recognize that we’re so behind as a city.”

Rising costs for internet services has played a role for many families not being able to afford them.

“The internet is every part of our lives today and every type of service is now online,” Sanders said. “So a better example I always give city hall is that there shouldn’t be a long line to pay your water bill. It was the internet and understanding how to do online bill pay, gives people a lot of time back in their day. That if you don’t have the internet, you don’t know how to use it. You don’t have access. Your life is at a very basic level. So it’s critical that we embrace opportunities whether it’s education or jobs, or otherwise, being able to work with advanced technology.”

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Mollie Belt

Quelle/Source: The Dallas Examiner, 25.03.2023

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