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The digital divide’s negative impact on rural communities



Digital technology continues to drastically change the economic landscape, communication techniques and global interconnectivity. Although new technology is being released at increasingly rapid rates, a significant portion of the U.S. population is still without sufficient access to these resources. The digital divide, a gap between those with internet access and those without access, threatens communications access to many across the country.

Access to high-speed broadband remains an issue for many living in rural communities. According to the Pew Research Center, 58% of rural Americans identify access to high-speed internet as a problem where they live. Here in Indiana, for example, over 10% of the population does not have access to basic broadband, and many who do still lack access to the high-speed access now prevalent in urban areas. Although the internet has become more accessible to rural communities as compared to the past, many communities still don’t have the infrastructure necessary to support such changes. Lack of access to high-speed broadband presents rural communities with both economic and healthcare-related challenges.

Digital technology drives today’s global economy, creating new jobs and allowing people to telecommute for better opportunities. Both students and working adults use the internet to access vital educational resources for everything from expanding their knowledge-base on national issues to finding solutions for everyday problems. Many people have difficulty accessing these resources. Some students have to travel to places with free Wi-Fi, such as their local McDonald’s, to do homework or study for tests. Without adequate access to digital platforms, some communities are falling behind in economic and educational development.

Telemedicine is also becoming more popular, allowing in-home healthcare access to individuals with limited transportation. Without reliable internet, however, residents of rural areas suffer. Individuals without high-speed broadband cannot use their electronic devices to take advantage of the innovative developments in healthcare that telemedicine has to offer.

The marketing landscape is becoming more complex and is subject to change on a daily basis, with increasingly niche audience segments requiring unique communications strategies. By creating campaigns grounded in research and designed to reach rural communities, the effects of this digital divide can be minimized.

To learn how Hirons can help with your rural marketing strategy, check out the services we offer.

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