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He's the city's solution to get Internet access to more Detroiters

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Posted at 12:53 PM, Apr 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-11 08:21:07-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — "Not having access to the Internet is keeping too many Detroiters away from the information they need and opportunities they deserve," said Beth Niblock, the City's Chief Information Officer.

Right now, the City of Detroit has among the nation's highest rate of residents without access to computers and the Internet.

Studies have shown that as many as 40% of Detroit residents don’t have access to broadband internet, even as broadband has become essential to employment opportunities, education, health care, news and information, shopping and social life.

The solution?

The City of Detroit has hired a new Director of Digital Inclusion -- Joshua Edmonds -- whose job will be to reduce the "digital divide" by "developing strategies to expand access to computers and the Internet to more Detroiters."

Edmonds oversaw the deployment of more than $1.5 million in digital-inclusion investments during his time in Cleveland, Ohio. He also worked at the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, "where he worked on President Obama's ConnectHome initiative, a partnership among communities, the private sector and federal government to expand high speed broadband to more families across the country."

As the new digital director, Edmonds will focus on developing a citywide strategy expand online access among residents who lack it and evaluating the City's progress.

“My goal is to make Detroit a national model for digital inclusion,” Edmonds said. “The recipe for successful digital inclusion in every city boils down to four things: partnerships, funding, engaged residents, and political will. I believe Detroit has every one of those points in excess. I'm excited to build relationships and do something bold.”

He'll operate in partnership with the University of Michigan with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.