Why Bridging the Digital Divide is So Urgent
The SF Tech Council advances digital inclusion for older adults and people with disabilities so all can participate in the City’s connected community.
San Francisco is known around the world as a hub of technological innovation and home to some of the biggest names in technology.
San Francisco is also home to tens of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities who remain on the other side of the digital divide – with no access to the online information and technology that most of us can’t imagine life without.
For a senior, being able to go online means looking up information about a health issue, finding nearby social activities, or watching a video of a grandchild.
For a visually-impaired person, having a tablet with a screen reader means being able to listen to an email from a loved one, the news, or anything on the internet.
For people with other disabilities, the right assistive technology can open up a world of possibilities for learning and connecting with others.
For everyone, being connected to online information and technology is increasingly essential for so many aspects of our lives and well-being.
That’s why bridging the digital divide is so urgent. And in a city like San Francisco, it is possible.
About the SF Tech Council
Founded in 2014, the SF Tech Council believes that bridging San Francisco’s digital divide requires collaborating across all sectors.
Together, leaders from the technology and business communities, city agencies, community-based organizations, philanthropy, academia, and healthcare are forwarding a bold, shared agenda in support of digital access for all – and building a stronger city as a result.
This multi-stakeholder effort to improve access for older adults and people with disabilities is the first collaboration of its kind in the nation and seeks to be a model of digital inclusivity for all cities.
Want to learn more? SF Tech Council meetings are held the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 4:00-6:00 p.m., followed by a wine and cheese reception from 6:00-7:00 p.m. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Areas of Focus
SF Tech Council members work together to identify and actively pursue the supportive policies and funds needed to achieve digital inclusivity. Thanks to close relationships with the Mayor’s staff, city department leaders (including the Department of Aging and Adult Services, the Department of Technology, the Mayor’s Office on Disability, and the Public Library), and major health care providers, the SF Tech Council has quickly become a strong, effective voice in policymaking.
The SF Tech Council’s workgroups bring together experts to develop innovative, cross-cutting solutions and track progress in:
- Achieving both access and learning. Getting seniors and people with disabilities access to the internet and technology is an essential goal, but it’s not enough. We need to build and expand on the successful trainings and support being provided at libraries and more than 50 senior tech lab sites throughout San Francisco.
- Sparking innovation at the intersection of health, social services, and technology. As many businesses have already realized, there is tremendous potential for supplementing and enhancing the care of seniors and people with disabilities through technology.
- Reducing isolation and loneliness. Technology and digital access can support more “connected living,” through which seniors and people with disabilities are connected to family, their neighbors, activities, resources, and more.
- Preserving diversity in a rapidly changing city. San Francisco’s tech sector has a unique opportunity to be a positive force for diversity of the city, to help older adults remain independent, and to provide low-income residents access to new opportunities. How can the Tech Council’s multi-stakeholder approach help achieve these goals?
The SF Tech Council vets, endorses, and periodically provides small grants to projects that harness technology to improve the lives of older adults and people with disabilities in San Francisco.
The Origins of the SF Tech Council
The City of San Francisco has struggled to achieve its goals for digital inclusion. In 2014, seeking to accelerate access for seniors and people with disabilities, the Department of Aging and Adult Services funded work to help forge a new path. Over the course of six months in 2014, 80 tech leaders, city agency staff, and community-based organizations were interviewed about what it would take to bring digital access to all San Franciscans. Read the Stakeholder and Expert Interviews Findings Report.
Across all these interviews a common thought emerged: that bold, cross-sector leadership is needed to fully address the complexities of connecting San Francisco, as well to harness opportunities for innovation.
In the following months, San Francisco leaders from all sectors came together for a series of working sessions to look at how the Council might work and what it would focus on. The SF Tech Council officially launched in February 2015.
The SF Tech Council is funded by the City of San Francisco and coordinated by the Community Living Campaign, a nonprofit working to increase independence and reduce isolation for seniors and people with disabilities in San Francisco.
The SF Tech Council meetings are hosted by the Netherlands Consulate General in San Francisco. The Netherlands is an international leader in using technology to achieve better health outcomes for seniors.
Vision of the SF Tech Council
- We envision a tech-enabled city where digital access provides opportunities for all San Franciscans.
- We encourage technological innovation that benefits everyone, especially our most vulnerable populations.
- We believe the City’s long tradition of social justice, combined with its exceptional entrepreneurship and technological innovation, will encourage participation in a vibrant community and recognize its interdependency.
- We seek digital fluency that will provide the essential tools to adapt to technological change, so that all can remain informed and empowered to incorporate future resources towards a high quality of life.