Nearly half of households in St. Louis City and County are affected by some aspect of the digital divide and will require investment to ensure adequate long-term connectivity. What was once considered primarily an issue of urban and rural divide has significant impact on urban and suburban families in our region.
Defining the Digital Divide
Five Key Components
The digital divide is best understood by examining and addressing five key components,
any of which can prevent an individual or family from adequate connectivity.
- Coverage – Does infrastructure exist to provide high-speed broadband technology?
- Quality – Is the connection fast and reliable enough for users to engage in activities such as virtual learning or telemedicine visits?
- Service Affordability – Can households afford quality high-speed broadband service?
- Device Affordability – Can households afford the devices they need?
- Digital Literacy and Mentoring – Do residents have the skills and/or support necessary to utilize the technology?
Impact of the Digital Divide on
St. Louis City and County
The vast majority of St. Louis City and County residents experience at least one of these five components, but low-income areas often face three or more barriers.
Almost 55 percent of the population live in areas meaningfully impacted by two or more digital divide pillars. Digital literacy needs permeate the region as older cohorts in all areas drive mentorship needs.
Service affordability affects 70–75 percent of the region, most prominently in the City and north County.
Finding a solution to the digital divide challenge starts with a true understanding of our region’s needs, as well as sourcing the tools and services necessary to meet those needs.
The reports serve as an inventory of those needs and reflect a snapshot in time to help our civic, business, and philanthropic leaders prepare a framework to address these issues.