Resources for improving your computer skills and knowledge

WRITTEN BY: Chris Hernandez
DESIGN BY: Jose Gonzalez

It may sound slightly suggestive to ask someone if they need an online hookup. But if the question refers to getting low-cost internet or computers, it’s an important question that can change lives.

The City’s agreement with Google Fiber brought high-speed internet to 300 community centers, libraries schools and other public facilities across the City. Our Smart City program has created free public Wi-Fi in the downtown business district, which will soon expand to the eastside, and then citywide.

These projects help create better access to the internet. But many people still need help learning how to use technology to make their lives easier and better.

KC Parks offers computer classes to help people improve their skills. Call 816-513-7500 to ask about the current location and for information on how to sign up.

There are also several community organizations that work to provide low-cost equipment, and computer skills classes. Please see the chart on the next page for contact information.

Once you are online, the City tries to make it easier to do business by making many services available through our website. The goal is to save you time, and to save you a trip to City Hall.

The number one source of city information on the internet is kcmo.gov, where you can check your trash day, report potholes, find a court date, pay a parking ticket, buy a pet license, and request services. Keep up with what’s happening by watching City-created videos and programs, viewing the directory of social media, reading news releases or subscribing to over 24 subscription lists. Links to other City resources, such as the City Clerk’s office (for agendas and dockets), and the Parks and Water departments also help residents find what they’re looking for. Kcmo.gov is like having part of City Hall open 24/7.

If you don’t want to wait on hold while calling the 311 Center, download the 311 app to your smartphone, or submit a request using the online form at kcmo.gov/311. You can even tweet @kcmo311!

Facts matter and numbers don’t lie. The City embraces transparency with our open data catalog. Want to know where illegal dumping complaints are clustered? How about stray animal reports? Which neighborhoods are experiencing the most trash misses? Once you set up a customized view you can send a hyperlink or download the data to create your own charts and graphs. Simply go to data.kcmo.org and open a world of relevant stats to ponder.

The City is helping communities meet technology needs by donating surplus electronic equipment to The Surplus Exchange. It’s called “digital upcycling,” rather than just “recycling.” The Surplus Exchange refurbishes the computers, which are then donated or made available at low-cost purchase by non-profit organizations to low income individuals. It also keeps electronic waste out of landfills. For information about buying, donating or repairing computer equipment, contact The Surplus Exchange at 816-472-0444 or surplusexchange.org.

Knowing how to do more online is how you can increase your digital literacy. And improving your digital literacy is a skill that will improve your life.

These are all important parts of the City’s Digital Equity Strategic plan. That plan is the City’s commitment to making the internet more accessible to all residents.

While City staff has accomplished many objectives to create a higher standard of digital equity, and won awards for its status as a “Digital City,” we realize there is more work to do to connect residents to services. And we are committed to continuing to help our residents learn how to do more online.

Other resources are available by going to digitalinclusion.org, or by calling the KC Library’s Tech Access Hotline at 816-701-3606.