San José pledges to close their digital divide

Led by Chief Innovation Officer Jordan Sun, the City of San José  is making strides to close their digital divide not only through enabling access to the internet and device distribution, but through digital literacy training to ensure their community members are equipped to enter the digital world.

San José pledges to close their digital divide media 1


  • The City of San José  in California is the first city in the U.S. to pledge to close their  digital divide.

  • By the end of 2022, San José aims to have connected over 300,000 residents to community available wifi networks.

  • San José has established a partnership with AT&T, which has delivered 15,800 hotspots into the community.

  • Through their digital inclusion partnership, San José is focusing on digital literacy and training to ensure their community knows how to operate safely in the digital world.


The need for more online services to deliver efficiencies, boost customer satisfaction and ultimately streamline communication with one’s government is no longer up for debate. The pandemic has blown this wide open with many governments now scrambling to roll out digital tools to deliver necessary services during these unprecedented times.

And while these tools can be game-changers in a lot of ways, governments need to acknowledge and address varying levels of access in their communities. The digital divide has impacted city engagement and service delivery long before the pandemic. In Washington, D.C. alone, it’s estimated that $ 25% of households$  do not access (or have very limited access) to the internet.

It can be a challenge to grasp the severity of the issue. After all, you’re reading this online, which means this does not apply to you.

But with school being moved online, local governments have been forced to be part of the solution. From $ circling Wi-Fi busses$  to $ popup Wi-Fi networks$ , cities around the world are getting creative when it comes to bringing access to these much needed areas.

The City of San José  in California is taking it even further as the first city in the U.S. to pledge to close their  digital divide.

The Digital Inclusion Partnership has been established with the goals of $ ensuring every single resident has a working device, enhancing digital literacy skills, and providing internet connectivity to every residen$ t. 

At the helm is Jordan Sun, San José’s newest Chief Innovation Officer who feels strongly that the digital divide is one issue many “smart cities” have overlooked. He says:

“If you want to build a smart city, you can't possibly say you are an inclusive technology oriented city if you continuously leave out 10% of your population that suffers from the digital divide.”

In this episode, Sun breaks down the strategies San José has turned to in establishing strong partnerships and creatively getting the word out on this digital inclusion initiative when the audience doesn’t have access to standard modes of modern communication. He also walks us through their focus on training and digital literacy in an effort to protect their vulnerable community members from threats in the cyber world.

Sun critiques the "smart city hype" and encourages governments to get back to basics. He shares some insights on what cities of all sizes should be aiming for to be a true smart city.

You can listen to the full episode or learn more about innovative strategies local governments around the world are taking to navigate new digital tools, better engage with the breadth of their constituency and more on the $ Govlaunch Podcast$ .

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