Rush Co. is making digital progress

Jul. 7—RUSHVILLE — Rush County's five-year Digital Inclusion Plan began in 2020. The Purdue Center for Regional Development recently reported digital inclusion statistics for all 92 Indiana counties.

Roberto Gallardo, Director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) and Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics indicated:

The digital divide is a theoretical concept for most people. For this reason, PCRD created a digital divide index that tells you — via scores ranging from 0 to 100 — how wide and where the divide is in any given county in Indiana.

Three scores are available. One looks at internet access, device ownership, and internet speeds (called the INFA score) while the second looks at demographic characteristics known to impact technology adoption such as age, poverty, educational attainment, etc. (called the SE score). The third and final score (called the DDI score) includes both INFA and SE scores. A score closer to 100 means there is a larger divide.

Rush County decreased its INFA score between 2019 and 2021. For example, the share of homes in the county without internet went down from 25.4% in 2019 to 16% in 2021. However, its SE score increased slightly. This means that demographic characteristics in the county are increasing on average and can act like headwinds for technology adoption.

For example, Rush County's share of population ages 65 or older increased slightly as did the share of population with any disability. On the other hand, the share of the population 25 years or older with less than high school decreased from 12.6% in 2019 to 10.3% in 2021. The overall DDI score also decreased from 62 to 59.

To see the DDI trends, visit:

What this means is that progress is being made but there is still room for improvement. Efforts to expand access to affordable and reliable home internet are important as well as providing reliable devices and improving skills to use the internet and devices is critical.

Locally, the Tech Center at The Open Resource, 103 N. Main Street, has been working to improve digital inclusion in Rush County from July 2021 to 2023 by providing more than 250 refurbished internet-ready laptops to local residents.

In addition, during this period the Tech Center has provided various digital technology related classes to more than 150 participants and Digital Navigators at The Open Resource have responded to technology-related questions from approximately 400 people — and all of those services were provided free of charge.

"These digital inclusion efforts have been accomplished thanks to our volunteers and strong local support from donations and other grants including a significant community grant from Rush County Community Foundation," Carole Yeend, President of The Open Resource, said. "Without our volunteers and the support from the Foundation, these activities promoting digital inclusion in Rush County would not have been provided to our county. We hope to continue our efforts during 2023 and beyond with the addition of even more digital inclusion activities."

Don't forget, the next free Chromebook workshop at The Open Resource Tech Center is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, July 10. Those interested may register by leaving a voicemail with their name and phone number at 765-251-8048.

The Open Resource is an all-volunteer, non-profit 501©(3) focused on learning and skill enhancement for anyone seeking lifelong opportunities.

The organization's mission is to create an open, inclusive pathway for personal growth to fully participate and contribute in today's world.

For more information, visit