Digital Justice

Tech enthusiasts like to talk about early adopters, those first to see opportunity in new technology. Unfortunately, racism and inequality are the original early adopters - they take the first seats at the table anytime we create something new, turning technology in to a tool that too often exploits, harms or ignores our frontline communities.

While Community members and digital justice advocates call for public sector responses, most government policymakers have limited understanding of how technology impacts frontline communities and few channels for community members to influence technology policymaking.

Suma's justice program works with partners and governments to build long-term community engagement in technology policymaking and to overcome the digital divide, supporting access to technology, digital community building and inclusive policymaking.

Click on the icons below to learn more about our current justice work

Digital Divide
Community Leads
Surveillance Policy

The pandemic heightened technology’s impacts on frontline communities by increasing reliance on digital connections.

Suma worked with frontline partners and governments to address the digital divide as a formal part of pandemic responses, including City of Portland efforts that delivered thousands of tech kits (devices + internet access cards) to community members via trusted frontline partners and State of Oregon efforts to increase broadband access.

Click on the photo to see findings from a late 2021 survey of frontline partners about ongoing digital divide needs in their communities.

Suma and partners successfully advocated for the City of Portland to support a new program, “Community Leads,” within Smart City PDX in the City’s Bureau of Planning & Sustainability.

Building off a 2019-20 pilot, the Community Leads program pays community members as independent contractors to help create intentional and collaborative decision-making space for communities to work with the City of Portland on data and technology related decisions and to support digital justice.

Suma is working with frontline partners and the City of Portland to develop the City’s first surveillance policy.

Building off community-City collaboration that passed Portland's 2020 ban on the private use of facial recognition technology, surveillance policy development is another step away from a patchwork of tech policymaking, activities and staff spread across multiple City bureaus and toward an inclusive, transparent and robust technology policymaking structure for the City of Portland.

Click on the photo to learn more about the surveillance policy process.

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