“Digital divide” survey finds 82 percent of city households have computers, Internet access

The results are in on a survey the City of Minneapolis conducted in January to understand how Minneapolis residents use computers, mobile devices and the Internet to better their daily lives. The survey results show that 82 percent of Minneapolis residents have computers with Internet access at home, but technology access and knowledge gaps still exist with certain demographics of the city. The survey is intended to determine the state of the “digital divide” in Minneapolis, which is the gap between individuals and groups in their access to information and communication technologies, and their use and knowledge of these technologies.

The City of Minneapolis is taking a leadership role to help community members, the private sector, and groups interested in digital inclusion come together to address the digital divide in Minneapolis. The City will use this survey data to help bring people and organizations together to develop ways to more effectively close the gaps.

The City’s IT vision includes a component for addressing the digital divide. As government, education, health care providers and businesses are using technology to connect more and more with people online, it’s important to ensure that all individuals can participate in the benefits of the digital society. The city’s residents and businesses need to be equipped to effectively compete with others around the world —to be smarter, more creative, more knowledgeable, and more innovative. Leveraging technology is a necessary ingredient of success.

About 8,800 households received the survey in the mail from National Research Center, Inc., an independent research firm that conducted the survey. Households were selected at random throughout the entire city, with the goal of reaching a diverse cross-section of residents. The City of Minneapolis IT department conducted the survey, with the help of a grant from the Minneapolis Foundation Digital Inclusion Fund,

Survey summary

Overall, Minneapolis residents feel good about technology in the city: they see computers and the Internet as important parts of their lives; they have a computer and Internet access at home; and they access the Internet on a regular basis. Seventy-seven percent of residents feel excellent (11 percent), good (43 percent) or fair (23 percent) about access to technology in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis residents also understand the importance of having computers and Internet access in their lives. Eighty-five percent of respondents said a computer and Internet access at home is essential or very important. While 82 percent of households city-wide have computers with Internet access there are areas of the city where this could be improved. Only 57 percent of Phillips residents and 65 percent of Near North residents reported having Internet access at home. What’s more, 45 percent of African-Americans reported not having a computer at home and 25 percent said they do not have Internet access at home.  Age and income are key factors in resident’s access and use of technology. Residents age 55 and older and those with household income less than $25,000 are least likely to use computers and the Internet.

Beyond having access to technology, people need to understand how to use it to effectively achieve their educational, economic, civic and social goals. City residents overall have a high comfort level when using technology for basic activities, however there are opportunities to improve skills in the areas of searching and applying for jobs online, cyber security, and using the Internet for community resources and civic engagement. The survey shows 91 percent are either very comfortable or somewhat comfortable using a computer or laptop; 92 percent are either very comfortable or somewhat comfortable accessing the Internet; and 92 percent very comfortable or somewhat comfortable using email. 

Results from the survey show 51 percent of respondents said they are very comfortable, and 20 percent somewhat comfortable finding and applying for jobs online. Survey results also show that 68 percent of respondents are very comfortable or somewhat comfortable using the Internet to access tutorials or educational programs. Friends and family are also a big resource for residents seeking computer and Internet advice. From a list of potential resources, 59 percent reported they ask their friends and family when they need help with computers or the Internet.

The entire report is on the City’s website. Folks will also be able to use an interactive map to compare neighborhood data to city-wide data.

Help the community bridge the digital divide

City leaders and staff will be hosting a number of community meetings with residents, businesses, community groups, and many other stakeholders to share the survey results and get feedback about how to overcome the digital divide in Minneapolis. The meetings will be held at the following dates and times:

Published May 14, 2012



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