The Connected Nation Blog: January 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

VIDEO: Connected Nation and ESRI Talk with NextGenWeb about BroadbandStat

Phillip Brown, Director of Government Affairs & Advocacy at Connected Nation, and Randy Frantz of ESRI, spoke with NextGenWeb on Tuesday, prior to the Internet Caucus Advisory Committee’s 6th Annual State of the Net Conference in Washington, D.C.

Check out NextGenWeb
for more.

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Connected Nation Previews Interactive Broadband Mapping Tool at Technology Policy Exhibition in Washington, D.C.

Andy Blair from George Washington University asks Connected Tennessee’s Michael Ramage for more detail about interactive broadband coverage maps while Sabrina Matteson, a representative from the American Farm Bureau Federation, observes the presentation.

Connected Nation, in conjunction with ESRI, a market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, showcased its jointly developed new interactive mapping tool for viewing, analyzing, and validating broadband data at a technology policy exhibition on Capitol Hill.

At Tuesday’s technology policy kickoff reception, more than 100 people had the chance to view Connected Nation and ESRI’s BroadbandStat demonstration. Michael Ramage, Executive Director of Connected Tennessee, continued showcasing the technology well after the official end of the event.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) welcomes attendees to the Congressional Internet Caucus Kickoff Reception and Technology Policy Exhibition.

Jon Gant, a professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign, stopped by to view the BroadbandStat demonstration on Tuesday.

Gant, who teaches GIS classes and has used GIS data from more than 20 years, was impressed by the easy, user-friendly interface of BroadbandStat.

“Look at how smooth the graphics transition from query to query,” he said, pointing to the screen of BroadbandStat. “And, the small things—like the menus—they are a lot better this way.”

“This [GIS data] is really complicated stuff,” he said Tuesday after viewing BroadbandStat. “And, how you all use and represent this complicated data with this kind of interface is really interesting,” he said.

Jim Geringer, director of Policy and Public Sector Strategies at ESRI and former governor of Wyoming, was on hand on Tuesday, prior to his participation in Wednesday’s
panel discussion, “Transforming Government Through Technology: The Real, The Possible, The Surprising.”

“The common underpinning of all activities—economic, social or health—is people connecting with other people and that activity doesn’t happen without broadband,” he said. “You will never understand how much information is in the world until you can connect with broadband. Broadband mapping—or showing who is connecting and who is not—is just the first step.”

The Technology Policy Exhibition is a free, educational event that briefs lawmakers and staff, reporters, and representatives from government agencies and private sector organizations on cutting-edge Internet technologies. It is the largest technology exhibition on Capitol Hill. Yesterday’s event served as the official kickoff of today’s 6th Annual State of the Net Conference, hosted by ICAC at the Hyatt Regency, Capitol Hill.

Monday, January 25, 2010

MMTC Hosts its Inaugural Broadband and Social Justice Summit

Summit moderator Tyrone Brown solicits more details from Jane Cabarrus, President of the Northhampton County Branch of the NAACP in Weirwood, Virginia, an area currently without a broadband infrastructure in place.

Click here to view more photos

Federal administrators, corporate leaders, civil rights veterans, and influential policy bloggers brought their diverse viewpoints to the roundtable discussions at the
Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) Broadband and Social Justice Summit at Howard University in Washington, D.C. on January 22.

Former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Tyrone Brown guided the dialogue as the participants brainstormed the barriers to broadband participation for minority communities and the civil rights implications of digital disengagement.

“Could you envision e-mailing or Skypeing yourself?” The question of perceived usefulness was posed by FCC Broadband Initiative Director Blair Levin as he discussed the impact of broadband on jobs, healthcare, and politics. “Unless the communities you care about are online, broadband loses its relevancy,” Levin said to accentuate a social infrastructure factor impeding adoption — that the Internet is a “team sport” with a strong networking component.

In examining broadband imperatives, the concept of shifting the viewpoint to that of the non-adopter came under examination.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn called it “The Challenge of the Last Half Mile — the distance between each individual who has yet to integrate broadband into their lives and the physical infrastructure lying right outside of their doors.”

Beyond the adoption issue, Commissioner Clyburn posed two questions for consideration:

  1. How do we ensure that all communities take advantage of this emerging economic force?
  2. How can we ensure that the barriers remain low in order to prevent another communications model that has people of color once again on the outside looking in?

Summit participants had the opportunity to express opinions, concerns, and policy suggestions in three vigorous roundtable discussions on topics including Broadband Literacy, Broadcasting and Journalism in the Broadband World, and Closing the Digital Divide.

Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), informed the audience that NTIA has been directed by Congress to focus on adoption issues in order to:

  • Get more people to use broadband.
  • Find ways to make broadband more available and more affordable.
  • Create more computer training programs.

Secretary Strickling provided insight on the selection priorities during the next round of Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funding, including:

  • Focusing on projects in communities where the before and after effects can be clearly measured.
  • Public computer center projects, particularly where people can receive computer training.
  • Comprehensive infrastructure projects including creating high-speed facilities and connecting community anchors.
  • Promoting projects that involve socially disadvantaged businesses.

Strickling also invited all to attend the series of workshops around the country jointly organized by the NTIA and the Department of Agriculture to provide application processing assistance to this target audience.

MMTC, a Connected Nation partner, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving equal opportunity and civil rights in the mass media and telecommunications industries. MMTC is generally recognized as the nation's leading advocate for minority advancement in communications.

Raquel Noriega, Director of Policy Development at Connected Nation, addressed the group about one of Connected Nation’s community initiatives called Every Citizen Online (SM).

Every Citizen Online proposes a public-private partnership that brings together broadband service providers, personal computer equipment manufacturers, and companies such as Intel to deliver a program that targets low-income segments of the population with an affordable personal computer, discounted monthly broadband service and the appropriate level of follow on education and support.

Intel, Dell, Lenovo, Fujitsu, Velocity Micro, and ZT Systems are among the private sector partners joining in the initiative.

Every Citizen Online aims to help vulnerable populations overcome top barriers to adoption, including broadband awareness and training, computer ownership, and subscription affordability.

“The focus of the summit was very much consistent with our goals and mission and we applaud MMTC for creating this important public forum to encourage more people to use broadband-enabled applications,” Noriega said.

Related information:
Blog Post:
Broadband and Social Justice Summit Underway in Washington, D.C.


Friday, January 22, 2010

BroadbandStat: Get a Sneak Peek on Jan. 26 in Washington, D.C.

Download the Invitation and Flyer Here

Screen shot of BroadbandStat in Tennessee, developed by Connected Nation in conjunction with ESRI, a market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software.

On Tuesday, January 26, technology leaders, legislators and the general public in Washington, D.C. will be given a sneak peek at a new cutting-edge hands-on tool for finding real-time information on high-speed Internet availability.

Daryl Phillips, Executive Director of the Hickman County Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD), had the opportunity to see the demonstration in Tennessee.

Here’s his reaction:

“Five years ago, we had local business owners that couldn't decide where to locate within the county because they didn't have access to this kind of detailed information,” Phillips said. “Now, business and industry can use this tool for relocation decisions, home buyers can use this while shopping for a home and government and ECD can use it for planning purposes. BroadbandStat gives Tennessee an advantage over other states."

Connected Nation, along with
ESRI, will be showcasing BroadbandStat at the kickoff technology policy reception for the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee’s 6th Annual State of the Net Conference.

BroadbandStat was developed by Connected Nation in conjunction with ESRI, the world market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software.

BroadbandStat is a new interactive mapping platform that is a multi-functional, user-friendly way for local leaders, policymakers, consumers and technology providers to devise a plan for the expansion and adoption of broadband.

BroadbandStat is unique because it allows a user to build and evaluate broadband expansion scenarios using a wealth of data, including education and population demographics, current broadband speeds and availability and research about the barriers to adoption. The tool also provides an instant feedback mechanism for consumers to validate broadband data electronically or via phone.

This technology will soon be implemented in 12 different states and one U.S. territory as part of Connected Nation’s federal stimulus funded broadband mapping and planning programs. These mapping activities are supported by State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program funds that are made available through the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for improving broadband accessibility across the nation.

We invite you to stop by and view the demonstration on January 26 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (EST) at the Hart Senate Office Building, Room 902.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Broadband and Social Justice Summit Underway in Washington, D.C.

Today, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) began its inaugural Broadband and Social Justice Summit at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The summit continues through January 22.

The event agenda features a series of presentations and roundtable discussions with key policymakers, including Blair Levin, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Executive Director, Broadband Initiative; Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner; and Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

MMTC, a Connected Nation partner, invites students, policy advocates, educators and members of the public to join in and witness this unique dialogue. For the agenda and registration, click

MMTC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving equal opportunity and civil rights in the mass media and telecommunications industries. MMTC is generally recognized as the nation's leading advocate for minority advancement in communications.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Internet Becoming Farm Tool “as Indispensable as Combines”

The American Farm Bureau thinks the power of the Internet is as clear as a Kansas sunrise! In fact, the topics of Twitter, Facebook and blogging are now center stage in a video segment recently posted on the AFB’s home page.

The magazine-style show America’s Heartland” produced the segment, “How ‘Tweet’ It Is,” giving an in-depth look at how social networking is quickly becoming the eyes and ears of the modern American farmer.

Anyone involved in agriculture can now immediately connect with consumers - and with each other, sharing vital information on weather, how crops are fairing and anything else that may impact business. Twitter even sends the latest Greenpeace and Humane Society of America updates into the palm of one working man’s hand.

It’s clear, the Internet is no longer just for “city folk!” It’s become a powerful tool that’s helping ensure the future success of American agriculture.

You can watch America’s Heartland” on YouTube or on RFD-TV via cable or satellite, or check your local public television station listings.