Adapting Outreach Strategies for Changing Internet Use

Chris Haller parses the data in a recent report on Internet use for implications for how communities should manage their public outreach strategies.
August 22, 2012, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The recent "Digital Differences" report from the Pew Internet Project contains a wealth of fascinating information on the ways in which different demographic segments of America's population access the internet. With a wealth of platforms used by community members to access the internet, a one-size-fits-all strategy for public outreach, such as simply developing a project website, may limit your potential pool of participants. As Haller notes, it is "important to consider other methods now gaining traction to help you reach out to citizens in alternate ways to engage the citizens of your community in the planning process."

Among some of the relevant findings on the report to consider when devising a public outreach plan:

  • The rise of mobile is changing the story. Groups that have traditionally been on the other side of the digital divide in basic internet access are using wireless connections to go online. 
  • Email and search are today's most common Internet activities, but other activities are becoming pervasive as well. Using social networking sites, a pursuit once dominated by young adults, is now done by 65% of Internet users- representing a majority of the total adult population.
  • The 27% of adults living with disability in the U.S. today are significantly less likely than adults without a disability to go online (54% vs. 81%).
  • One in five American adults does not use the internet. Senior citizens, those who prefer to take our interviews in Spanish rather than English, adults with less than a high school education, and those living in households earning less than $30,000 per year are the least likely adults to have internet access.
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Published on Wednesday, August 22, 2012 in Engaging Cities
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