COVID-19 has created an even greater dependency for society on home internet and technology unlike ever before. We rely on our devices and internet connection for human connection, education, employment, and even essential services like groceries, as well as social services like government support, counselling, aspects of healthcare, community organizing, and more.
In partnership with the City of Toronto Technology Services Division, our team is looking to identify exclusions and inequities in digital access in Toronto, with a focus on selected Scarborough neighbourhoods.
This project is intended to be highly collaborative and participatory with community members and actors. Through semi-structured interviews, with auto-ethnographic narratives and social mapping methods we hope to capture and highlight the barriers and challenges of digital access, as well as the current supportive programming and work being engaged/offered through community organisations in Scarborough. In order to keep our team and community safe during the pandemic, we will be taking precautions by conducting meetings virtually. We understand the limitations of reaching out to informants through virtual means of communication given the nature of our project, however, our team will work to connect with participants strategically and meaningfully. Despite these challenges, we hope to provide meaningful and impactful narratives that will allow the City of Toronto to better serve Scarborough communities’ digital needs and broadly, reveal the embedded, structural nature of the unequal digital access.
*as per the collaborative spirit/intentions of this project, we welcome your feedback on these questions*
- Who and where is being underserved digitally and why? How are profit and non-profit spheres offering digital services? Whose interests are served in the current delivery of digital services and associated digital divide? Whose responsibility is it to serve communities?
- What inequalities and discrimination can be seen in digital inclusion? Across different communities, what are the barriers linked to the digital divide (particularly for low-income, racialized, gendered and/or international students)?
- How can community organizations in Scarborough be supported to work towards digital inclusion/access?
We are a group of four senior undergraduate students at the University of Toronto Scarborough working in collaboration with Professor Leslie Chan. Professor Chan is the director of the Knowledge Equity Lab and Associate Director of the Centre for Critical Development Studies.