May 3, 2022

Real Estate’s Role in Overcoming the Great Digital Divide


Over the past two years, as the world slowed down amid the pandemic, technology continued to rapidly advance. While new tech innovations keep the wheels spinning, technology progress has outpaced accessibility to the public—increasing what’s known as the digital divide. 

Urban Land Magazine recently published an article detailing the impact digital technology plays in the housing experience and its role in closing the digital divide. 

As the pandemic gave rise to an increase in telehealth, work-from-home and virtual learning, it also exposed a multitude of digital inequities faced by millions of households who were already facing pre-pandemic hardships.

Urban Land highlighted a 2018 Pew Research Center survey in which “17 percent of students ages 13 to 17 said they are often or sometimes unable to complete homework assignments because they did not have access to a computer or an internet connection.”

When it comes to older adults, the unexpected transition to digital health care due to the pandemic caused a rift in their ability to attend crucial checkups and appointments. 

Urban Land cited a KFF analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey, which found “almost 20 percent of people aged 65 and older lacked internet access at home, which, coupled with inexperience with technology and physical disabilities, impaired their ability to access telehealth services during the pandemic.”

How does real estate play into this?

According to Urban Land, “several asset managers, real estate developers, and institutional investors, as well as advocacy organizations, are using digital technology to boost resident engagement, enhance student learning, and drive positive health and environmental outcomes while delivering quality, affordable housing at scale, particularly in communities facing public health risks.”

The article cited several new initiatives including free Wi-Fi for all residents to provide better access to education and health care as well as “offering both affordable housing and in-home care technologies such as assisted devices, mobile apps, and medical alert systems—with services from caregivers who embrace the importance of combining technology with the human touch.”  

Read more about the Great Digital Divide in Urban Land Magazine.

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