YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Most people in Mahoning County have easy access to the internet and can hop online whenever they want, but some in outlying regions are still disconnected.
The gaps in internet connectivity came to light in a big way through a program at the Oak Hill Collaborative Group. Kids were putting minicomputers together there and were allowed to take them home but some were leaving them behind because they didn’t have internet access at home, leaving the devices useless.
Oak Hill Collaborative Executive Director Pat Kerrigan said not having internet access not only put the kids behind in homework and other assignments, they also couldn’t apply for jobs or apply for benefits from home, putting them far behind.
Kerrigan wanted to identify blackout areas in the Valley when it comes to internet service, so the group teamed up with other organizations in the Valley and developed a survey, polling residents and business to find who their internet provider is and then looking at where service is lacking.
The one problem they’ve run into is getting data from those people who do not have service.
“The problem with people who are on the other side of that digital divide, those people can’t fill out a survey online unless they are doing it at the library or in my officer or we go door to door,” Kerrigan said.
Kerrigan is asking anyone who can, to fill out the survey and to get the word to others, too.