Digital Equity at the SPCO

Enabling health, employment, learning and social opportunities through access to digital devices, connectivity, ability to use technology and capacity of the voluntary sector to use technology for better service to the community.


increasing access to Devices and Digital Literacy

Computers or Tablets for Community Members. We manage a centralized list where local non-profits can request devices for their clients.  The platform builds on existing collaborations that are purchasing, loaning or distributing devices and brings efficiency to the ad-hoc approach that arose during COVID in response to the urgent need for devices.  In 2021, we distributed 102 devices (laptops, tablets, cellphones or other technology) and are aiming for 500 devices in 2022.  We are pleased for the support of the City of Ottawa for end-of-life devices for refurbishing and for Jewish Family Services and Ottawa Community Foundation for funds for tablets for seniors.  To request a device for a community member click here.

Digital Literacy for Seniors. With the Ottawa Ethno-cultural Seniors Network and support from Jewish Family Services, we developed an innovative and sustainable inter-generational digital literacy initiative.  The benefits of this program go far beyond learning technology.  It also builds on-going social connections between residents of all ages.  Training resources are available here.  We are expanding the model to other groups who have not had the opportunity to use technology effectively, such as recent refugees who grew up in refugee camps.  Special thanks to Jewish Family Services, the Ministry of Health and Ottawa Community Foundation.


collaborating to Increase Connectivity

Digital Equity Ottawa. Digital Equity Ottawa (DEO) is a collaborative initiative established by SPCO and National Capital FreeNet to tackle the digital divide for at-risk populations, priority neighbourhoods and rural residents.  DEO is reducing the digital divide through four strategies: (1) Access to Devices (2) Access to Connectivity (3) Digital Literacy (4) Non-Profit Capacity.  In mid-2021, we established a Strategic Advisory Committee, with representatives from the City, funders, school boards, Ottawa Public Library and community agencies to leverage existing digital assets to improve digital equity.  In recognition that rural areas often face even bigger challenges, we developed partnerships with rural agencies to support digital equity in the rural counties of Eastern Ontario.  Seed money was received from Federal government COVID relief funds distributed through United Way East Ontario.


Increasing Access to Connectivity. Digital Equity Ottawa has been working toward an innovative community based Wi-Fi access service to e b piloted in high-needs neighbourhoods, establishing the necessary partnerships and completing the feasibilty study, business plan and a portion of the engineering studies.  The project is ready to move ahead, pending capital funding.  In the meantime, we have been promoting existing subsidized private sector internet plans available to selected residents.  Download the report Digital_Equity_Part_3-Community_Mesh_Study_(Final_2021).

Using Digital Technology to Advance Recovery in Residential Service Homes.  Digital technology has been shown in a variety of ways to aid recovery, facilitate community integration, and improve quality of life for persons experiencing severe and persistent mental illness. A notable digital gap (i.e., the disparity between those who have internet access those who do not) has been observed with individuals living in residential service homes. This gap results in further isolation and limited access to online-based content related to community engagement and health resources. DEO partners and staff from mental health services are developing a project  that would promote recovery through improved access to digital technology in residential service homes in Ottawa for residents and their social and professional support networks.

building capacity through Research and Education

Mapping of Digital Inequity in Ottawa. The SPCO's Neighbourhood Equity Index provides maps to support improving digital equity for vulnerable populations at the neighbourhood level.  Click here to explore the digital equity mapping on the Neighbourhood Equity website.

Boosting the Signal:  Increasing Digital Equity in Ottawa. This 2021 report explores digital equity in Ottawa based on available data (particularly CIRA, CRTC and Statistics Canada), community planning meetings, key informant interviews, literature review, a scan of digital equity initiatives in Ottawa and elsewhere, and a survey of Ottawa Community Housing tenants.  The report supports collaborative action to improve digital equity in Ottawa around four pillars:  access to devices, connectivity, digital literacy and capacity of hte voluntary sector to use technology in program delivery.  Digital_Equity_Part_1_Increasing_Digital_Equity_in_Ottawa.

Mapping Digital Inequity in Rural Eastern Ontario.  The Rural Digital Equity Dashboard highlights poulation characteristics, internet speed tests and possible Wi-Fi hub locations for 12 priority Eastern Ontario communities.  Explore the dashboard here.


Boosting the Signal:  Pathways to Improving Digital Equity in Eastern Ontario. "OThis report examines the four pillars of Digital Equity Ottawa's digital equity framework from a rural lens.  Based on key informant interviews, available data and literature review, it highlights the significantly poorer access to digital resources in rural areas.  The report lays the groundwork for digital equity initiatives in rural Eastern Ontario, focusing particularly on access to devices and connectivity.  Download the report Digital_Equity_Part_2-Rural_Eastern_Ont_Report_(Final_2021).

Scroll to Top