Howard County has launched Transform Howard, a digital equity initiative to expand digital inclusion and increase community access to broadband.
In addition, the county has unveiled a new website that is more mobile-friendly and accessible to people of all ages and abilities.
In September 2020, the County established a partnership with the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) and the Bright Minds Foundation to provide devices and mobile hotspots to students. As students returned to in-person learning, the County worked with the school system to increase broadband capacity in school buildings to support a hybrid learning model.
Howard County was able to provide a seamless learning experience for students, whether they were in-person or remote learners. Looking forward, Howard County has expanded the partnership to provide all internet services for the school system, including upgrading their broadband infrastructure. Howard County has also expanded free public Wi-Fi to 12 new locations around the region, including Long Reach Village Center, public libraries, parks, and fire stations, and will continue to increase the number of sites.
Howard County has begun a study to determine areas of digital needs across the county. This includes an upcoming mailed survey to some residents, and we are encouraging residents to complete and return the survey when received. The study will result in a detailed plan to increase digital equity during the next 3 to 5 years.
The new website is designed to be “everything friendly” whether it’s used on a mobile device, PC or tablet on any browser and is designed to respond to the ever-changing needs of a resident on the move.
The new site also prioritized making important content easier to find while providing a modern experience and a consistent style to allow users to find information across departments and pages. It also meets strenuous accessibility requirements and follows key Website Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1.
The website will continue to evolve as community input is gathered. To provide feedback, click “Website Redesign” or complete the form at www.howardcountymd.gov/website-redesign.