The Oregon Digital Safety Net

Can you imagine if no one you knew could get in touch with you?  If your doctor's office could not reach you, a former employer wanting to offer you a job couldn't make that offer?  If a benefit you suddenly qualify for expires because you can't be notified of it?  If you don't learn of your sister's serious illness because no-one in your family has a current phone number for you?

It is hard to imagine this.  But this is what it means to be digitally excluded - and it is not uncommon for people living in poverty in Oregon today.  We tend to think of digital access as a question of having phones - or having internet access, and indeed that is a problem for some people.  But we are focusing on a different problem.  Today, many people in marginalized populations in Oregon have access to mobile phones - but they rarely have the same phone number for long periods of time. They often don’t have a stable physical address.  This means that people and institutions can't get in touch with them.  In fact, they risk becoming invisible: employers, landlords, hospitals, doctors, courts, benefits organizations, friends and relatives often can’t reliably reach them.  This is digital exclusion.  

The Oregon Digital Safety Net (ORDSN) is a not-for-profit initiative designed to solve this problem by providing long-lasting communications capabilities to people in marginalized populations in Oregon.  ORDSN is currently a concept being incubated under the championship of the Technology Association of Oregon.

When implemented, ORDSN will leverage existing digital assets, and be delivered through agencies (such as homeless service centers) currently serving these populations.

ORDSN will do this by providing long-lasting mobile phone numbers, email addresses, and post office box numbers that are independent of the end-users' physical devices, software, and economic relationships.  We call these addresses EVERGREEN.

For more information about ORDSN, please send an email to