The Digital Equity Laboratory was an applied research hub at the New School. From January 2018-December 2019, the Laboratory built digital equity and justice through applied research, policy strategy, and convening power.

Mission

The Digital Equity Laboratory uncovered and addressed structural inequities that persist and evolve as technology transforms our cultural, social, and political systems.

Activities

We conducted applied research, provide technical support, and offer policy strategy at every level of government for the purpose of advancing digital equity
e.g. Digital Equity and Privacy in NYC

We brought together practitioners, scholars, organizers, and policymakers to create cross-sector leadership on key digital equity issues
e.g. Digital Equity Symposium 2018

We created career and practical opportunity ladders for students, graduates, companies, and communities interested in exploring and building equitable technology ecosystems.

Working Principles

Technology for Equity

Digital Equity means we achieve inclusive and healthy social, economic, educational and civic outcomes for people of all races, incomes, genders and gender identities, and backgrounds. Digital Equity treats technology as a tool and not a determination, solution, or an end in itself. Digital Equity takes a structural, transdisciplinary, and intersectional approach.

Digital Access, Health, and Safety

Technologies should be accessible and affordable. Digital Equity should protect personal and private data, and protect against wrongful group-based surveillance based on demographics. Everyone should be able to afford technology access, and should have resources and support to protect their digital privacy. Using technology should not reinforce or exacerbate harms and risks for vulnerable groups. All people should feel welcome to participate in digital life, express themselves, and explore ideas online without fear of violence, harassment, surveillance, or discrimination.

Collective Agency and Self-Determination

Digital Equity aims to build a collective culture of digital consent and mutual accountability shaped by and for the benefit of the most vulnerable among us. Everybody should have agency to make decisions about the technologies that shape their lives, regardless of their level of digital skills or knowledge. Digital participants should have self-determination over their data bodies: everyone has the right to know and to determine what information they generate by using technology - what data is collected, how it is shared and used, and how to opt-out of unsafe or exploitative data extraction and targeting.

Building for the Future

Instead of reacting to challenges, harms, and risks as they arise, we should envision systems and standards that will build digital equity as technologies evolve. Accountable and transparent digital systems, standards, and common understandings can increase both access and safety before problems arise. Our technological systems should reflect the best society we can collectively imagine, now and in the future.

Leadership

Maya Wiley Headshot

Maya Wiley

Founder & Co-Director

        Maya Wiley founded the Digital Equity Laboratory in 2017 and co-led it with Greta Byrum from January 2018 until September 2019.

<p> Maya Wiley is a nationally renowned expert on racial justice and equity. Prior to her work at The New School, Maya served as Counsel to the Mayor of the City of New York from 2014-2016, where she led efforts to expand affordable broadband access and advance human rights and gender equity. In this work, she supported efforts to scale up community-based models of resilient digital infrastructure that had proved essential during Hurricane Sandy. She has also been an advisor to the City of Detroit in the development of a digital equity strategy. Ms. Wiley has litigated, lobbied the U.S. Congress, and developed programs to transform structural racism in the United States and South Africa. </p>

    <p>Prior to her work at The New School, Maya served as Counsel to the Mayor of the City of New York from 2014-2016, where she led efforts to expand affordable broadband access and advance human rights and gender equity. In this work, she supported efforts to scale up community-based models of resilient digital infrastructure that had proved essential during Hurricane Sandy. She has also been an advisor to the City of Detroit in the development of a digital equity strategy. Ms. Wiley has litigated, lobbied the U.S. Congress, and developed programs to transform structural racism in the United States and South Africa.</p>
    
    <p>She is also the founder of the Center for Social Inclusion, and has worked for the Open Society Foundation in the U.S. and in South Africa, the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., the American Civil Liberties Union and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.</p>
    <p>City and State Magazine named Ms. Wiley one of the 100 most powerful people in New York City in 2014 and in 2015. In 2011, Wiley was named one of "20 Leading Black Women Social Activists Advocating Change" by <a href="http://theroot.com/">TheRoot.com</a> and a Moves Power Woman in 2009 by the magazine.</p>
    
    <p>Ms. Wiley holds a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law and a B.A in psychology from Dartmouth College. She resides in Brooklyn with her two daughters and her partner.</p>
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Greta Byrum Headshot

Greta Byrum

Co-Director

    <p>Greta Byrum was co-director of the Digital Equity Laboratory from January 2018 until December 2019. In her two years co-leading the Laboratory, she led initiatives preparing libraries and CBOs for the first digital census, building the equity component of NYC's groundbreaking 2020 Internet Master Plan, and measuring the privacy practices of NYC's internet services providers. Greta is now the director of Community Tech NY (CTNY), leading equitable community internet projects in rural Tennessee and the Hudson Valley in partnership with The New School. CTNY is a sponsored project of the Allied Media Projects and a parter in the Community Tech Collaborative.</p>

Greta reimagines the way we design, build, control, and govern communications systems. As Co-Director of the Digital Equity Laboratory, Greta built digital justice through applied research, community projects, and policy strategy. Previously she founded and led the Resilient Communities program at New America, where she developed and led Resilient Networks NYC, an initiative bringing training, tools, and equipment for storm-hardened mesh WiFi to five neighborhoods in NYC's flood plains.

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Partners

Our institutional partners and allies include:

The Roosevelt Institute
Red Hook WiFi
Detroit Community Technology Project
Silicon Harlem
Ranking Digital Rights
Resilient Communities Initiative
Mozilla Foundation
Ford Foundation
Open Society Foundations