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Ghent equips the vulnerable with digipacks

One such package includes a laptop, digital training and financial contribution to the fees for 1 year of internet service

  • November 09, 2020 09:30
  • Author Aseniya Dimitrova
Medium home office 599475 1920

Some 2,500 digipacks will be on their way to the most vulnerable citizens of Ghent in a few weeks. With a free laptop, assistance at home on how to use it and support for internet service fees, the second-largest city in Flanders wants to help reduce the digital divide on its territory.

Reducing the digital divide in simple steps

When we talk about “digital divide”, we refer to a situation in which those who do not or cannot use digital technologies or internet connection are limited in their access to information, communication and online services. Among the main reasons for so-called digital gap are the lack of means to purchase the necessary equipment or the lack of training on how to use it.

The phenomenon emerged with the advent of the digital technologies and the commercialization of internet but got even more acute during the coronavirus crisis. The access to digital technologies and connectivity became essential for distance learning and working, socialisation, as well as for quickly getting health information and advice.

To mitigate this problem, the Belgian city of Ghent decided to support its most vulnerable residents, by distributing 2,500 digital packs. Each package includes a laptop, digital assistance at home and a partial contribution for 1 year of internet fees. Those households who need it, will receive basic training on how to use the equipment, how to install software and how to make use of some essential digital services.

A social worker from the city of Ghent will decide whether each applicant meets the conditions and if they will actually use the pack for work, school or to avoid social isolation. To those who qualify, the equipment will be distributed for free starting early 2021.

The City of Ghent is using some 2.6 million euros in federal funds for this action with the potential of increasing the number of said packages by an additional 500. On top of this, Ghent announced last week that another 18,500 people will get a one-off 30 euros meal voucher on top of the initially announced 35,000 recipients.

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