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Connectivity Blueprint

A people-centered roadmap for digital equity.

CLIENTS: Ramsey County and the City of Saint Paul

Key Points

The pandemic highlighted the importance of online access to jobs, education, healthcare and more – and the consequences of digital inequity. As the pandemic began to subside, Ramsey County and the City of Saint Paul came together to advance Connectivity Blueprint, a cross-sector effort to better understand digital inequities in the Metro Area and craft strategies for equitable access to online opportunity. SDK served as lead consultant for the effort, providing community-informed research and engagement-driven planning to facilitate the cross-sector initiative, conduct extensive engagement to understand people’s experiences with digital inequity, and create a final plan for digital inclusion. 

Client Need

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the effects of the digital divide. Many of the people and communities who face barriers to online access are also those who face other barriers to opportunity, such as: communities of color, those with disabilities, low-income households, rural populations, homeless and displaced persons, and those involved in the criminal justice system. These populations continue to be left at risk until full digital inclusion is achieved.  


Ramsey County and the City of Saint Paul understood that the drivers of digital inequity – and the solutions for digital opportunity – are bigger than any one entity can solve for. They came together to convene Connectivity Blueprint, a cross-sector initiative to better understand digital inequity’s causes and consequences in the Metro Area, and to develop shared strategies to address the issues uncovered through community-informed research. In addition to city and county stakeholders, the effort involved area schools and colleges, employers, healthcare providers, those serving the unhoused community and the corrections system, among others.  

SDK Contributions

SDK played several key roles as lead consultant for the project. We leveraged our community-driven research to conduct a thorough review of digital inequities in the East Metro. SDK partnered with AppGeo to map broadband availability against census data. Policy interviews and community engagement threaded input from more than 250 people, from state policy leaders to corrections officers to single mothers living in large apartment buildings, and more. Taken in total, this robust community-driven research provided an essential fact-base to ground future work.  


Of note, SDK created a new framework to ground how stakeholders approached solutions: Get Connected / Stay Connected / Know How To Use The Connection. This simple frame helped all partners consider the infrastructure, credit, economic and other factors that all compound to make digital inclusion harder – but even more important – for people in danger of being left behind from online opportunities.  

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SDK leveraged the insights from research to facilitate engagement-driven planning with the Connectivity Blueprint Steering Committee and more than 100 partners and collaborators. The effort included the Digital Inclusion Leadership Summit, a half-day event that brought together more than 200 people from county, city, and state government along with nonprofits, health care providers, educators and others to devise strategies for digital inclusion.  


The ideas sparked at the Digital Inclusion Leadership Summit served as the foundation for the Connectivity Blueprint roadmap toward digital inclusion, and have guided the work of county, city, nonprofit and other partners since the plan’s completion and presentation.  

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