UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
December 9, 1999
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Information tools, such as the personal computer and the Internet, are increasingly critical to economic success and personal advancement. In early July, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration issued a report, Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide, that found a growing gap between those with access to these tools and those without. As information technology plays an ever-increasing role in Americans' economic and social lives, the prospect that some will be left behind in the information age can have serious repercussions. The digital divide threatens to impede the health of our communities, development of a skilled workforce, and the economic welfare of our nation.
On December 9, 1999, the Secretary of Commerce will host a Digital Divide Summit, focused on expanding access to information technologies for underserved populations and areas. Secretary Daley will lead the dialogue among participants from the Federal Government, technology industry, civil rights and non-profit communities, grassroot community organizations, and the general public. The participants will examine existing public and private initiatives aimed at closing the technology gap and will discuss how to expand upon and coordinate these efforts. Closing the digital divide is an essential part of President Clinton's New Markets Initiative, which seeks to bring America's prosperity to economically-underserved areas.
The Summit will be held at the Department of Commerce and will include an address by Secretary Daley; a roundtable discussion with representatives from the public and private sectors; and six breakout sessions. The topics of these smaller sessions include Technology and Economic Development in Underserved Areas; Sustainable Public Access Points; Lowering Barriers to Access through New Product Development; Marketing to and Content for Underserved Populations; Rural Communities -- Targeted Solutions; and Workforce Development -- Training and Education.
For further information, contact Jeffrey Joyner, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 4713, Washington DC 20230; telephone (202) 482-1816; facsimile (202) 501-8013; or electronic mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>.