Call to Action: Review Arizona’s Digital Equity Plan


EJ John

Sr. Research Analyst

Last week, the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) released a draft of the Arizona Digital Equity Plan. This plan gives an overview of Digital Equity challenges in Arizona and outlines goals and objectives to solve them. The plan defines Digital Equity as “The condition in which individuals and communities have the information technology capacity that is needed for full participation in the society and economy.” Therefore, the ACA developed a Digital Equity Plan that promotes Digital Equity for economic growth, workforce development, improving education and health, and providing access to essential services within Arizona. The plan outlines Digital Equity goals and objectives, an overview of challenges and resources, and a county-by-county review of key demographic data. 

The ACA’s Digital Equity Plan also complies with the national State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program (DEA) and supports Arizona’s initiatives for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD). Under DEA Program requirements, this Digital Equity Plan must focus on Digital Equity challenges faced by the following covered populations:

  • Individuals who live in low-income households
  • Aging individuals
  • Incarcerated individuals other than individuals incarcerated in a Federal correctional facility
  • Veterans
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Individuals with a language barrier, including individuals who are English learners and have low levels of literacy
  • Racial and ethnic minorities
  • Rural inhabitants

Under the DEA Program requirements, Tribal nations are not considered a separate covered population. Tribes are generally included in the racial and ethnic minorities category of covered populations. However, The ACA acknowledges that many Tribes are located within Arizona and that Tribal land makes up approximately 28% of the land within the state. Therefore, the plan recognizes some specific Tribal broadband barriers and includes the following Tribal-related goals:

  • Provide training to Tribal Digital Navigators on Arizona’s low-cost plan
  • Work with Tribes to determine Digital Equity Specialists and ensure they get certified
  • Increase the number of Tribal Digital Equity Plans
  • Work with Tribes to assess the need for health navigators and ensure that every Tribe has access to a Telehealth Access Point and health navigator by 2030

The ACA strongly encourages feedback on the Digital Equity Plan. The ACA website accepts input via online form, email, or phone. The comment period will be open until the end of the day on February 1, 2024. The plan outlines the ACA’s stakeholder engagement effort with a general timeline for its upcoming statewide outreach schedule. Please follow the ACA and AIPI for more updates on Arizona Tribal broadband developments.