Idaho Digital Access Workbook

Introduction

In 2022, Governor Little designated the Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) as the lead agency to develop a collaborative Digital Access for All Idahoans Plan (DAAI). Many Idahoans face barriers to digital access at a time when internet use is increasingly vital to the ability to thrive in every aspect of life, like access to health care, education, business, and government services. The DAAI plan documents pervasive barriers to digital access and proposes a visionary strategy to end digital access divides that prevent many Idahoans from accessing crucial technology. The DAAI plan will increase broadband affordability for Idahoans and improve digital skills, cybersecurity awareness, access to devices, technical support, and access to public services. The DAAI plan aligns with existing efforts to improve digital access outcomes. There are other strategic planning efforts in Idaho to address digital access in various sectors, including economic and workforce development, education, health, civic and social engagement, and public services. The DAAI plan aligns with the Idaho Department of Commerce’s Office of Broadband Link Up Idaho Initiative Five-Year Action Plan and local digital equity plans currently in development. The DAAI plan includes objectives and metrics to ensure alignment with digital equity plans across Idaho.

This workbook is intended to help communities throughout Idaho form action groups to start investigating and defining their local community needs related to digital inclusion. Having an action group in place will allow a community to set goals, measure progress, and can help demonstrate the need to potential funders. Each section in the workbook contains further resources, action items, and strategies. After completing this workbook, your action committee should have its own Digital Action Plan for your community.

Terms

What is Digital Inclusion?

Terms such as the digital divide and the homework gap are often used to describe the disparity separating those with access to the internet and devices from those without; however, these terms do not always capture the complexities of our digital age. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) defines Digital Inclusion as “the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This includes five elements:

  1. affordable, robust broadband internet service;
  2. internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user;
  3. access to digital literacy training;
  4. quality technical support; and
  5. applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation, and collaboration” (National Digital Inclusion Alliance, 2022)​.

What is Digital Equity?

By addressing the five elements of digital inclusion, we work toward achieving digital equity, which NDIA defines as a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy. Digital Equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services (National Digital Inclusion Alliance, 2022).

What are Digital Skills?

Training related to Digital Literacy or Skills is fundamental as one of the five elements of Digital Inclusion. The American Library Association’s (ALA) Digital Literacy Task Force defines Digital Literacy as the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills (American Library Association, 2022).

Idaho’s Eight Covered Populations

The Digital Equity Act (DEA) defines covered populations that state plans need to target to address digital equity. According to census data, these are the percentages of people who fall under the eight covered populations in Idaho.

  • Total Population: 1,787,065
  • Covered Population: 1,361,000
  • Percentage Covered: 76.2%
    • In households with incomes at or below 150% of the poverty level: 20.7%
    • Aged 60 or over: 22.6%
    • Incarcerated: 0.7%
    • Veteran: 6.8%
    • With a disability: 13.9%
    • With a language barrier: 13.5%
      • English learners: 3.6%
      • Low Literacy: 16.4%
    • Racial or ethnic minority: 18.4%
    • Rural: 41.8%

Getting Started

Forming an Action Group

To form a digital access group, you must identify local community partners interested in enhancing digital inclusion in your community. Possible group members could include:

  • Local Library Representative(s)
  • Local K-12 Representative(s)
  • Health Care Provider Representative(s)
  • Social Services Agencies Representative(s)
  • Local Agencies on Aging/Senior Centers Representative(s)
  • Representative(s) of Community Groups (including groups representing the aging and disability communities)
  • University of Idaho Extension Representative(s)
  • Community or Economic Development Representative(s)
  • Community College, College, or University Representative(s)
  • Local Government Representative(s)
  • Business Representative(s)
  • Economic Development Representative(s)
  • Other Interested Organizations

You can include a list of committee members in your digital inclusion plan.

Setting Goals

As you recruit committee members and develop a digital inclusion plan, it may be helpful to create a broad goal statement describing why you are undertaking this effort.

Examples include:

  • To make sure that all individuals in the community who need access to online services can access and use them
  • To improve internet access and digital literacy in my community
  • To enable all residents to fully participate in the digital economy and society
  • To enable all residents to learn online, work from home, access health care via telemedicine

In your plan, you can include your initial goal statement or a revised goal developed by the committee​ (Nebraska Information Technology Commission, 2021)​.

Broadband Access

The percentage of residents with a broadband subscription varies by county, from a high of 97.5% in Ada County to a low of 0% in Camas County at 100 Mbps. Below are the 10 Idaho counties with the highest broadband subscription rates of 100 Mbps:

County% Population with Broadband Subscription
Ada County, ID97.5%
Bonneville County, ID96.4%
Bannock County, ID94.5%
Oneida County, ID94.3%
Blaine County, ID93.1%
Nez Perce County, ID90.4%
Canyon County, ID89.6%
Twin Falls County, ID89.0%
Kootenai County, ID87.7%
Madison County, ID87.5%

Here are the 10 Idaho counties with the lowest broadband subscription rates of 100 Mbps:

County% Population with Broadband Subscription
Camas County, ID0%
Lewis County, ID0.8%
Idaho County, ID2.3%
Benewah County, ID17.7%
Boundary County, ID27.3%
Lincoln County, ID34.0%
Adams County, ID37.1%
Boise County, ID42.0%
Owyhee County, ID44.2%
Fremont County, ID44.6%

Gather Data on Internet Service Providers

88% of consumers in Idaho have access to a wired connection with broadband speeds faster than 25 Mbps. To find out how your area compares, go to Broadband Now and enter your zip code.

Resources and Programs

Example programs and resources:

  • Hot spot lending programs
  • Low-income broadband assistance programs
  • Locations such as libraries that offer access to Wi-Fi and computers
  • Locations that offer small conference rooms equipped with videoconferencing for job interviews or telemedicine consultations
  • Communities and regions can form committees to meet with telecommunications providers, develop strategies, and identify funding to improve broadband availability. (Nebraska Information Technology Commission, 2021)

Resources for Broadband, E-Rate, & Public Wi-Fi

  • Circulating Mobile Hotspots: Many libraries in Idaho and elsewhere are circulating mobile hotspots to their communities. You may have heard this called “checking out the internet” or “lending Wi-Fi.”
  • E-rate & Broadband: E-rate and EOR provide funding that, when combined, can fully cover a public library’s internet service costs.
  • Public Wi-Fi Map: The ICfL is developing a map of all Idaho public libraries that provide free Wi-Fi access.
  • Wi-Fi Hotspots for Education: This map provides locations of Wi-Fi hotspots available to Idaho students needing internet.

Resources for Digital Inclusion Data

  • Digital Equity Act Population Viewer: The Digital Equity Act Population Viewer includes five thematic maps to explore: Covered Populations, Population Lacking Fixed Broadband, Population Lacking Computer or Broadband, Population Not Using the Internet, and Populations Not Using a Device. The map viewer depicts the data used in the Digital Equity Act (DEA) funding allocation formula.
  • FCC National Broadband Map: This map displays where Internet services are available across the United States, as reported to the FCC by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
  • Idaho Broadband: The Idaho Department of Commerce’s Broadband page contains information about the Idaho Broadband Advisory Board, Idaho Broadband Strategic Plan, Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, and the Capital Projects Fund.
  • Idaho Digital Data: Developed by the University of Idaho’s Digital Economy Program, Idaho Digital Data offers metrics on identified populations and broadband connectivity for each county.
  • Internet Service Providers in Idaho: Broadband Now allows users to find and compare local internet providers. Their data comes from the FCC and is supplemented by ISPs.
  • Pew Research Center: Internet & Technology: Pew conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis, and other data-driven social science research.
  • U.S. Census American Community Survey: U.S. Census Data contains information about people, places, and the economy. It is highly customizable.

Resources for Addressing the Homework Gap

  • Digital Bridge K-12 State Budget Calculator: The state budget calculator incorporates estimated unconnected students, wireline solutions, and LTE hotspot costs. The tool can calculate the projected cost of ensuring home internet access for students.
  • Education Superhighway: Bridge-to-Broadband: Education Superhighway is a national nonprofit aiming to close the digital divide for the 18 million households with internet access but who can’t afford to connect.

Resources for Low-Income Consumers

  • Everyone On: Everyone On’s mission is to unlock opportunity by connecting families in underserved communities to affordable internet service, computers, and digital skills training.
  • Google Fiber: Gigabit Internet for Public Housing: Google Fiber’s mission is to get more families in public housing online. They’ve partnered with local organizations in the cities they serve to provide residents with free internet access.
  • Lifeline: is a federal program dedicated to making phone and internet service more affordable for low-income households. This benefit provides eligible consumers with a monthly discount of up to $9.25. Consumers living on Tribal lands are eligible for an enhanced discount of up to $34.25 per month.

Digital Skills Programming

Digital skills programming is an essential part of digital inclusion work. Take the time to audit your current offerings. Address strategy and service and seek input from staff, partner organizations, and your community. From there, target your digital skills programming around a particular group in your area. Learn who has the most need, such as job seekers, the aging population, or English learners. Decide what topics best meet your audience’s needs and use existing resources to develop lesson plans and curricula best suited to your community.

Digital Navigators

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance defines Digital Navigators as “trusted guides who assist community members with ongoing, individualized support for accessing affordable and appropriate connectivity, devices, and digital skills.” Navigators are trusted community members already serving in social services or community support roles. These trusted guides are familiar with the needs of their communities and the resources available in their area. Digital Navigator programs begin with a needs assessment and an asset mapping process. From there, programs can be designed to meet targeted community needs ​(National Digital Inclusion Alliance, 2022)​.

Strategies and Programs

Example programs and resources:

  • Free or low-cost classes on using the internet and common applications such as email or social media
  • Individual support through digital navigators or mentors
  • Tech support services through a virtual help desk or weekly sessions ​(Nebraska Information Technology Commission, 2021)​

Digital Navigator Example Programs

  • ACC AmeriCorps Digital Literacy Coordinator: The University of Idaho Digital Economy Program partnered with American Connection Corps Members. ACC AmeriCorps Members serve as Digital Literacy Coordinators to help Idaho’s communities address the digital divide.
  • Connect Arizona: Connect Arizona’s Digital Navigators are a team of library staff from around the state who provide one-on-one phone assistance to help Arizona communities get online.
  • Connected California: The free, virtual, bilingual (English & Spanish) Connected California Digital Navigators service helps Californians find low-cost internet service and devices, learn foundational computer skills, such as how to navigate the internet or how to set up an email account, and find and use online resources to improve their lives, including resources to assist with career development, guidance on the use of CAreer Pathways platforms, and more.
  • Digital Navigator Toolkit: The Digital Navigator Toolkit from NDIA walks through a case study at the Salt Lake City Public Library. It offers a guide to starting your program, from picking your target community, hiring a navigator, measurement, and assessment.
  • Idaho Digital Skills Navigators: The ICfL offers a statewide Digital Navigator service. Idahoans can receive 1-on-1 help over the phone or visit the website to explore free, self-guided tutorials.
  • Seniors 2 Seniors Program: Seniors 2 Seniors is a community program in which tech-savvy high school seniors teach senior citizens basic computer and internet skills.
  • Texas Digital Navigators Grant Program: The Texas Digital Navigators Grant Program helped libraries to develop and implement a unique Digital Navigator program to close the digital divide in their area in a measurable way. Libraries were awarded funding and training to run programs in their communities.

Digital Skills Resources

Online Content Resources

  • ICfL’s eBranch Project: eBranch in a Box is an initiative from the ICfL to assist Idaho libraries in having a web presence to be an extension of the library by providing information about or access to library services.
  • Idaho Digital E-Book Alliance (IDEA): The Idaho Digital E-Book Alliance (IDEA) is a statewide partnership between the ICfL, public libraries, and school libraries to expand access while reducing barriers to digital e-books and e-audio content via Overdrive.
  • Libraries Linking Idaho (LiLI): LiLI is the gateway for Idaho residents to free online access to an array of tools and resources for their educational, business, and recreational needs.

Internet-Enabled Devices

Internet-enabled devices that meet the user’s needs are vital to digital inclusion. There are several options for low-income consumers and nonprofit organizations to buy refurbished devices through computer refurbishers and national organizations. At the local level, corporations and device refurbishers are also good resources for donated devices that meet user needs.

Strategies and Programs

Example programs and resources:

  • Programs that refurbish and distribute computers or other devices
  • Programs that provide subsidies for devices for low-income individuals and families
  • School districts that offer devices for all students
  • Locations such as libraries that have computers or other devices available for use by the public ​(Nebraska Information Technology Commission, 2021)​

Resources

Summarizing

Creating a localized plan for your community is essential to bridging the digital access gap. The elements of this workbook should help guide community groups in developing a plan. Setting goals and gathering interested community partners provide a foundation for your plan. Collecting data on broadband access in your local area is foundational to addressing these issues. Beyond broadband, digital access also requires a focus on digital skills programming, guiding users via digital navigators, and providing internet-enabled devices that meet the user’s needs. In the resources section of this workbook, you will find a list of all the resources mentioned above and data on broadband access. The data is focused on internet availability by county, broadband subscription by age, and availability of computing devices. The Latah County Broadband Coalition has kindly provided documents they use in coalition planning. These can be accessed from the Google Drive link at the end of the workbook.

Data & Resources

Table 1: Idaho Internet Availability by County

Source: Broadband Now

County25+ Mbps100+ Mbps1 Gig
Ada County, ID97.8%97.5%97.1%
Adams County, ID71.9%37.1%28.1%
Bannock County, ID95.2%94.5%92.6%
Bear Lake County, ID88.1%85.8%40.6%
Benewah County, ID56.8%17.7%6.0%
Bingham County, ID78.8%78.5%74.8%
Blaine County, ID96.3%93.1%92.8%
Boise County, ID83.8%42.0%17.6%
Bonner County, ID55.5%46.3%40.9%
Bonneville County, ID96.9%96.4%96.0%
Boundary County, ID69.5%27.3%20.1%
Butte County, ID87.0%63.7%63.7%
Camas County, ID48.6%0%0%
Canyon County, ID90.4%89.6%85.5%
Caribou County, ID82.0%76.2%24.8%
Cassia County, ID71.4%68.4%68.2%
Clark County, ID67.2%67.2%0%
Clearwater County, ID65.3%51.3%48.7%
Custer County, ID88.9%70.5%59.9%
Elmore County, ID82.0%75.4%73.2%
Franklin County, ID74.7%74.2%44.5%
Fremont County, ID74.2%44.6%44.6%
Gem County, ID86.0%80.6%75.7%
Gooding County, ID62.8%57.6%57.5%
Idaho County, ID31.4%2.3%0%
Jefferson County, ID81.6%77.9%70.3%
Jerome County, ID71.4%69.7%67.2%
Kootenai County, ID90.0%87.7%87.0%
Latah County, ID75.5%71.8%69.1%
Lemhi County, ID70.5%57.5%42.3%
Lewis County, ID62.0%0.8%0%
Lincoln County, ID43.3%34.0%34.0%
Madison County, ID89.6%87.5%87.3%
Minidoka County, ID78.8%78.3%78.3%
Nez Perce County, ID91.3%90.4%84.8%
Oneida County, ID94.7%94.3%94.3%
Owyhee County, ID48.9%44.2%41.6%
Payette County, ID90.9%83.6%82.5%
Power County, ID80.5%80.5%80.5%
Shoshone County, ID77.8%72.1%41.5%
Teton County, ID94.6%84.4%82.8%
Twin Falls County, ID90.1%89.0%88.6%
Valley County, ID84.4%61.8%59.0%
Washington County, ID74.4%63.0%59.0%
Idaho Average77.1%65.1%56.9%

Table 2: Idaho Broadband Internet Subscription by Age

Source: United States Census Bureau

CountyUnder 1818-6465+
Ada County, ID98%96%87%
Adams County, ID93%87%74%
Bannock County, ID94%93%80%
Bear Lake County, ID96%94%85%
Benewah County, ID95%84%75%
Bingham County, ID94%91%82%
Blaine County, ID94%96%96%
Boise County, ID94%90%81%
Bonner County, ID96%90%83%
Bonneville County, ID98%95%83%
Boundary County, ID98%89%86%
Butte County, ID99%91%77%
Camas County, ID92%91%91%
Canyon County, ID97%95%85%
Caribou County, ID95%96%73%
Cassia County, ID98%92%77%
Clark County, ID100%97%77%
Clearwater County, ID92%88%76%
Custer County, ID100%92%87%
Elmore County, ID97%91%81%
Franklin County, ID99%97%92%
Fremont County, ID99%97%82%
Gem County, ID99%94%80%
Gooding County, ID87%84%77%
Idaho County, ID95%90%76%
Jefferson County, ID98%97%85%
Jerome County, ID90%91%80%
Kootenai County, ID96%94%84%
Latah County, ID96%92%82%
Lemhi County, ID98%95%85%
Lewis County, ID96%89%70%
Lincoln County, ID83%89%69%
Madison County, ID90%77%85%
Minidoka County, ID93%93%73%
Nez Perce County, ID90%92%77%
Oneida County, ID90%93%79%
Owyhee County, ID91%89%67%
Payette County, ID87%91%79%
Power County, ID99%92%84%
Shoshone County, ID98%90%74%
Teton County, ID96%92%90%
Twin Falls County, ID97%93%80%
Valley County, ID90%93%82%
Washington County, ID99%96%75%
Idaho Average95%95%81%
US94%93%81%

Table 3: Computing Devices, Smartphone Only, or No Computer

Source: United States Census Bureau

CountyOne or more types of computing deviceSmartphone onlyNo computer% one or more types of computing device% smartphone only% no computer
Ada County, ID185,3876,8565,25497%4%3%
Adams County, ID1,55414513392%8%8%
Bannock County, ID30,7282,8291,97694%9%6%
Bear Lake County, ID2,22128610296%12%4%
Benewah County, ID3,39458943289%15%11%
Bingham County, ID14,6671,58296094%10%6%
Blaine County, ID9,09689320298%10%2%
Boise County, ID3,19119420594%6%6%
Bonner County, ID17,8291,6981,39993%9%7%
Bonneville County, ID40,4373,4551,96595%8%5%
Boundary County, ID4,39043532093%9%7%
Butte County, ID9246810090%7%10%
Camas County, ID310291396%9%4%
Canyon County, ID76,3576,8013,37196%9%4%
Caribou County, ID2,39727713095%11%5%
Cassia County, ID7,59488158693%11%7%
Clark County, ID235662391%26%9%
Clearwater County, ID3,07532243688%9%12%
Custer County, ID1,6917111794%4%7%
Elmore County, ID10,15589260594%8%6%
Franklin County, ID4,48139719196%9%4%
Fremont County, ID4,11438920695%9%5%
Gem County, ID6,59854759892%8%8%
Gooding County, ID4,88883652590%15%10%
Idaho County, ID5,99450260991%8%9%
Jefferson County, ID9,29866032597%7%3%
Jerome County, ID7,70777838595%10%5%
Kootenai County, ID63,9495,7223,05395%9%5%
Latah County, ID15,24564068496%4%4%
Lemhi County, ID3,03038829891%12%9%
Lewis County, ID1,34616022086%10%14%
Lincoln County, ID1,69121415592%12%8%
Madison County, ID11,76843521198%4%2%
Minidoka County, ID6,7941,00368091%13%9%
Nez Perce County, ID15,8531,5361,27193%9%7%
Oneida County, ID1,73314910894%13%6%
Owyhee County, ID3,70149152688%12%12%
Payette County, ID8,77871457494%8%6%
Power County, ID2,51936415294%14%6%
Shoshone County, ID4,83576064388%14%12%
Teton County, ID4,19011012797%3%3%
Twin Falls County, ID31,3073,4342,05394%10%6%
Valley County, ID3,7081749897%5%3%
Washington County, ID3,78250536191%12%9%
Idaho Average642,94149,36332,38295%7%5%
US118,132,60411,394,2727,603,74994%9%6%

Table 4: Connectivity of Native Communities

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Native GeographyShare of households with a computerShare of households with an internet subscriptionShare of households with a high-speed internet subscription
Coeur d’Alene Reservation70.4%79.8%41.5%
Duck Valley Reservation86.1%64.6%32.6%
Fort Hall Reservation57.7%73.1%38.7%
Kootenai Reservation88.6%100%74.3%
Nez Perce Reservation73.3%80.3%51.5%

Table 5: Internet Service Providers Offering Lifeline or Discount Plans

Latah County Broadband Coalition

The Latah County Broadband Coalition has provided some example documentation that other digital access groups may find helpful.

At the link, you’ll find the following:

  • Overview of the coalition, background, and goals
  • Email request to anchor institutions to join the coalition
  • Pledge to join the coalition
  • Cost estimates and action items for coalition work
  • Local resources matrix
  • PowerPoint presentation to accompany pledge requests

References

​​American Library Association. (2022). Digital Literacy. Retrieved from Literacy ALA
​National Digital Inclusion Alliance. (2022). Definitions. Retrieved from Digital Inclusion
​National Digital Inclusion Alliance. (2022). The Digital Navigator Model. Retrieved from Digital Inclusion
​Nebraska Information Technology Commission. (2021, June 24). Digital Inclusion Plan Workbook. Retrieved from Rural Broadband Nebraska
​New York State Library; National Digital Inclusion Alliance. (2022). 2022 Digital Inclusion Toolkit. Retrieved from New York State Library

Please note the PDF version may not be as current.