Savannah ranked 5th in report showing efforts to close digital divide

WSAV NOW

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — While the pandemic showed just how many daily tasks we can do online, it also reinforced the digital divide for nearly 30 million Americans who don’t have internet access.

A new report from CenturyLinkQuote, a telecommunications company working towards improving access to high-speed internet, shows which cities in Georgia are most committed to being better connected.

“The hope with this report is that it will inspire cities to improve on the areas that might be lacking, compared to other cities in their state,” CenturyLinkQuote’s Zoi Galarraga said.

The data shows that Atlanta is the most connected city in Georgia, with 88% of the population having access to a device and 78% of the population having broadband connection.

Following Atlanta in the effort to help close the digital divide are Augusta, Columbus, Macon and then Savannah.

“In terms of why Savannah was ranked fifth on the list, over 87% of the city’s population does have access to a computing device, and 77% has access to broadband connection. So it’s a little lower than Atlanta, but it’s still ranked within the top 10 cities in terms of being most connected in the state,” Galarraga told WSAV NOW.

The Most Future-Focused Cities report ranked areas in the state based on the number of citizens that have access to high-speed internet, public transportation and green infrastructure.

For the study, researchers determined connectivity based on the percent of households with at least one computing device (laptop, smartphone, etc.) and the percent of households with access to broadband internet.

“During this pandemic, we realized that while there’s a lot we can do online, for the 30 million Americans who don’t have access, it really puts them behind and puts them in a difficult situation,” Galarraga said.

“It’s just so crucial to everything that we do now while we’re working from home and people are learning online,” she added.

Their research shows most Georgia cities are committed to helping community members be better connected, but rural areas still struggle to help residents get online.

Galarraga says every city can work to make broadband access more equitable.

“Savannah has a slightly lower percent of access to computing devices, so maybe expanding that access to tablets, computers, and smartphones can help, and broadening the access to broadband internet in the area.”

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