Providing All County Residents with Access to eGovernment Services

The success of electronic government will be determined by the extent of its use by the citizens and businesses of Oakland County.

One barrier to that use is the digital divide -- the disparity in household access to computers and the Internet. The U.S. Department of Commerce identified the digital divide as a public policy issue in 1995.

Unequal access to information and communications technology was found to correlate with social and economic factors such as race, ethnicity, income, education level, gender, age, and geography. Market research studies that benchmark computer and Internet usage patterns show that the divide is disappearing because computers are becoming cheaper and opportunities for free Internet access are more available.

In addition, computing is becoming ever more pervasive in modern society. Computers are being converged with a wide range of devices such as cell phones, televisions and automobiles. As computers continue to be used in such a wide variety of devices, the digital divide will continue to decrease.

Other research focuses more on the continuing barriers to computer and Internet access and use. These barriers include varying literacy levels, relevant online content, and institutional constraints on computer access and use.

Technical barriers that previously prohibited County and local agencies from providing access to information are now being removed with the implementation of the County's OAKNet project. OAKNet is a fiber optic network that connects all County and local agencies to the County's network and the Information Technology Building. OAKNet is used to transmit data, video and potentially voice communications.

The County plans to provide full access (tools and system) to our local municipal governments. For a minimal cost, these local cities, villages and townships can greatly reduce the money they spend on developing independent own sites, and realize greater functionality and content efficiencies than they could individually.

The installation of OAKNet is increasing networking and Internet alternatives for businesses and citizens of the County. This project increases the overall network capacity of the County and thus supports widespread access and use of eGovernment services and information.