Digital Divide in Kern County

A few years ago after becoming active in the Kern County community, I found this report titled, Conectados: Connecting Los Angeles Underserved Communities, which was completed by The Tomas Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI) in April 2003.  The TRPI is a Latino think tank that is a free-standing, nonprofit policy research organization which is headquartered at the University of Southern California. 

And it is ironic as I write this now, because when I came across the report several years ago, I had no knowledge of GIS or its power, but I was fascinated with the maps that were included in this report.  So now that I am familiar with GIS and have become empowered to help our community, I think a study of the digital divide in Kern County would be beneficial to find out where publicly accessible technology is available, and where it is not.

Especially if we, as a community, want to bring more technology training and technology-related jobs to this area.  I feel that if we can find the digital divide in Kern County, then we can focus on areas that are in need of technology and training.

In fact, in 2001, The Innovation Groups did a study titled, “Connecting Kern County – Assessing Our Readiness for the Networked World” which can be found on the Great Valley Center website.  Although several years old, this report was designed to assess where Kern County is in regard to becoming a connected community.

The report notes, “Attracting and retaining information technology based companies is important to the County and an integral part of the overall Economic Development Strategy.”

And since the time the above reports were completed, there have been numerous online resources created as to digital divide-related information, such as the Digital Divide Network and the Technology Opportunities Program.  With all of the available resources, there are enough sample cases and methodologies that could be used to create a similar report for Kern County.

The California Central Valley will have to diversify into other areas if it wants to survive.  If technology is going to play a role in that diversification, we have to be prepared to attract businesses and skilled workers.  With that in mind, if bringing more technology to Kern County is important to you, or if you are interested in the digital divide in Kern County and would like to help, drop me a line and let’s collaborate!

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