Digital Inclusion Ottawa

Closing the digital divide

Digital Inclusion is the ability of individuals and groups to access and use information and communication technologies. Digital inclusion encompasses not only access to the Internet but also the availability of hardware and software; relevant content and services; and training for the digital literacy skills required for effective use of information and communication technologies. (source)

Rural Canadian access to High Speed Internet

  • with high speed

  • without high speed

According to CRTC numbers from 2017, only 37 per cent of rural households in Canada had access to 50/10 Mbps, compared with 97 per cent of urban homes. (Source: CRTC)

Lower Income Household Internet Access

  • with internet

  • without internet

As of 2018, 83.4% of Ontario households in the lowest income quartile had internet access at home, compared to 94.5% for all Ontario households. (Source: Canadian Internet Use Survey)

Rural Internet Speeds

Rural Canadian internet speeds are on average ten times slower than urban speeds. COVID has widened that divide. In April 2020, rural speeds were 12 times slower. (Source: CIRA)

Covid-19 has revealed the scale of the digital divide

Hardware: Access to devices

Increase access to appropriate hardware and technical support to residents in need.

In a government and high-tech town, there is surplus hardware (eg. when companies and departments upgrade) available in Ottawa, such as when companies upgrade their equipment.  The challenge has been matching that supply with the demand. We’re proposing a centralized portal to coordinate the supply and demand of decommissioned devices.  This strategy may also include support for refurbishing devices, and basic help deck support for Ottawans in need.

Connectivity: Access to affordable, reliable and fast internet for all.

Expand access to the internet and broadband infrastructure for those facing barriers, including low income and rural residents.

As a starting point, we are conducting a survey to understand more about access to affordable internet, and exploring new and innovative options for community owned-wifi, such as a mesh network for fast, affordable, reliable internet at home.

Ability to use: Digital Literacy

Train residents in digital skills to increase access to services, equity in accessing virtual learning for high school graduation, employability and more.

While many residents are extremely digitally savvy, we need a strategy for those left behind. We are exploring the possibility of a new help desk support service available to help those who need basic computer and internet assistance.

Capacity of the the non-profit sector

Increase the capacity of the non-profit sector to provide services digitally including for residents with low technical capacity.

Residents aren’t the only ones being left behind – the non-profit sector in Ottawa is facings its own digital divide, including issues with hardware, software, helpdesk supports and a skills gap in some agencies. In order to serve our residents effectively, the non-profit sector needs to assess its own digital health and ensure it’s keeping pace with evolving needs.


Infographics available for re-use