In a bid to address the digital divide in COVID-19 times, Facebook has partnered the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) and NetHope, a global consortium of nearly 60 global nonprofit organisations, to provide internet connectivity to communities most impacted by the pandemic.
The social networking giant will provide a $2 million grant to support ITDRC’s ”projectConnect” initiative which will help rural and underserved communities in the US gain access to the Internet.
Facebook said it is also providing a $260,000 grant to support NetHope’s COVID-19 response.
“We’re also sharing insights from Facebook Disease Prevention Maps to help ITDRC better understand options for internet coverage in specific regions and more quickly determine the type of support needed to address connectivity challenges,” Facebook said in a statement.
In addition, the company will help NetHope identify the world’s most vulnerable and affected communities, including migrants and refugees, in order to provide them with protective health equipment and internet connectivity kits.
While many people have shifted their lives online, there are still more than 3.5 billion people, including more than 18 million Americans, who lack reliable internet access.
The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the importance of internet connectivity.
“The goal of these partnerships is to better understand the unique barriers these communities face in getting online and create the programs and infrastructure needed to increase the availability and affordability of high-quality internet access,” said Facebook.