Better together — digital inclusion
Advancing digital equity is a wicked problem. We have all seen how the digital divide can exacerbate existing issues within our society and often pose the most significant challenges to those who have the most to benefit.
At InternetNZ, we value working alongside others to do more good by working together. Recently, we have combined our efforts with others in the sector to help get device access and connectivity to two vulnerable groups.
Awhi Matihiko: Red Cross Digital Settlement Package saw New Zealand Red Cross, Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa (DIAA), the Spark Foundation, and InternetNZ pooling resources and energy to get new refugees to New Zealand online and connected. This is a crucial element to resettlement, with digital connection ensuring families can stay connected with loved ones, develop local relationships, and embrace employment and educational opportunities to feel empowered and involved in their new community. Awhi Matihiko recognises that in this changing world, digital inclusion is important as a foundation for the longer-term wellbeing and economic prosperity of New Zealanders — including new New Zealanders.
In another example of combining efforts, Greater Christchurch Schools' Network used our grant funding and worked alongside Spark Foundation’s Ciena Jump for Students Fund and the DIAA. They helped students from households where cost was a factor in having an Internet connection or a device at home in Ōtautahi Christchurch. Working with a school liaison, they set local whānau up with an in-home connection. Plus, where necessary, a donation from Chorus enabled the distribution of Chromebooks.
This project, ConnectED Linwood, followed on from the pilot, ConnectED Aranui. GCSN was among our recent grantees to be provided with guidance from Standard of Proof to evaluate their work and help us test and refine our evaluation toolkit. The evaluation of ConnectED Linwood fed nicely into their latest iteration, ConnectED Ōtautahi. Changes include measures to minimise the barriers to sign up for students and having information and permission forms now in Cook Islands Māori, Māori, Samoan and Tongan. A school liaison person was important to better coordinate with GCSN, someone who could build a trusted relationship with whānau and training to activate and distribute modems to make the project more self-sustaining long-term. The number of students and whānau was also expanded, shifting from Linwood College to include decile 1-5 schools in Christchurch in Term 4 2021 and to include years 5-13 as well.
Across these initiatives, there are some similarities in terms of challenges and insights. The data cap in particular, sometimes created uncertainty that deterred people from signing up or left people frustrated if they reached the cap. Ideally we'd love to see these programmes continue and expand, for example, ensuring each whānau is supplied with the number and type of devices that fits their need. The logistics of this is challenging and something we hope we can all improve on together.
Each year InternetNZ uses profits from the sale of .nz domain names to give out community funding. We provide funding for community-led initiatives that help to create an Internet that benefits all of Aotearoa.
These initiatives received funding in 2020/21.