Digital Literacy Corps & The Verizon Foundation to Increase Computer Access to 10,000 Hoosiers

Net Literacy’s (www.netliteracy.org) digital literacy corps of student volunteers are repurposing hundreds of computers that will be donated to senior centers, youth centers, and community centers throughout Indiana’s rural counties.  Thanks to a generous grant by the Verizon Foundation, Net Literacy has rented additional storage space and has repurposed and staged over 200 computers with hundreds of additional computers still in process. 

The Lt. Governor’s office has asked Net Literacy to help increase computer access in Indiana’s rural counties, and student volunteers from several schools are working hard so that 500 computers are completed by February 15, 2010 to launch this initiative.  

Lt. Governor Becky Skillman joined Net Literacy’s Honorary Board of Directors in July, 2009, showing her support for “student empowered community service” and the importance of reducing the digital divide.  Increasing computer access throughout Indiana’s rural counties and at senior centers are two of the Lt. Governor’s digital inclusion priorities. 

For additional information, contact [email protected]

Net Literacy Files Comments on Adoption to the FCC

Net Literacy (www.netliteracy.org) filed comments regarding adoption to the FCC on December 2nd and in response to GN Dockets Nos. 09-47, 09-51, and 09-137.  The 40 page document responded to dozens of question in the FCC’s request for comments, but the three most significant arguments Net Literacy made were:

– K-12 students on free or assisted lunch programs and without a computer at home should be the National Broadband Plan?s highest priority.
–  A Digital Literacy Corps of student volunteers should be an important component of the National Broadband Plan.
–  Executive Order 12999 should be amended to provide K-12 schools a “right of first refusal” for all Federal Government computers deemed surplus.

The filing is available at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/comment/view?z=yx57b&id=6015500723

Please contact Daniel Kent at [email protected] for additional information.

US Broadband Coalition Issues Adoption & Use Report to the FCC

In any national broadband strategy, adoption and use need to play a major role. We’ve seen numerous examples of broadband driving future applications that will enhance lives. Advances in education, health care and economic development are out there, and many Americans are going to need to increase their technological competencies in order to realize the benefits.

While the U.S. Broadband Coalition submitted a report on a national broadband strategy to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Sept. 24, it recently submitted another that offers more detailed policy suggestions.

The Broadband Adoption and Use Working Group, chaired by Charles Benton of the Benton Foundation; Link Hoewing of Verizon; Karen Archer Perry of the Knight Center of Digital Excellence, and Kenneth Peres of Communications Workers of America, collaborated with more than 30 authors representing over 25 different firms to create a new report that was delivered to the FCC Oct. 29 and will be showcased in a public forum at the FCC Hearing Room in Washington D.C. Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. EST.

“Broadband Adoption and Use: Bridging the Divide and Increasing the Intensity of Broadband Use Across All Sectors of the Economy,” is a robust document focusing on policy options that promote: inclusion, increased intensity of broadband use, interoperability, integration of broadband and technology into other programs, and expanded innovation. The report’s hundred plus policy ideas address each of these principles directly.

Inclusion

As more functions in our society move online, the cost of digital exclusion continues to escalate. Conversely, the value associated with any given Internet-enabled service increases as more people or devices access that service. This report includes specific recommendations to bridge the digital divide. Its universal design principles seek to bring access to people with disabilities. The benefits of broadband can potentially reach 40 percent of American adults who currently have inadequate or no access.

Intensity of Broadband Use

While broadband appears to be well integrated in some sectors of our nation’s economy, we’re actually in the beginning stages of broadband adoption as a whole. The potential to further leverage broadband technologies across society and the economy creates unparalleled opportunities to grow our economy and enrich lives.

The report covers a number of policy options designed to increase adoption and use in the areas of economic development, health care, public safety, education, energy and sustainability, and democracy and civic engagement.

Interoperability

While broadband developments to-date are founded on the natural interoperability of Internet Protocol (the method by which data is sent from one computer to another), more application-level interoperability is needed to accelerate development across sectors and constituencies such as in health care and public safety. The report points out where policy and standardization can drive additional deployment and create new, more effective use models.

Integration of Broadband into Everything

Broadband technology and Internet-based applications can no longer be managed and funded in “technology silos” of policy and investment. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is integral to social services, education, health care, safety, civic rights and engagement, and all other sectors of the economy. The report recommends ICT investment and policy be incorporated into other federal and state programs such as housing, social services, education, and health care as integral funded and mission-aligned program components.

Investment

Strategic investments such as those made through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act’s broadband stimulus funding, Universal Service Funds and USDA Rural Health programs are critical to filling gaps in the market in terms of access, adoption and applications.

Innovation

The hallmark of the Internet age has been innovation. While change is necessary to broaden and deepen the impact of broadband across the U.S., changes must also preserve and encourage continued innovation at all levels of the economy and market. A number of recent studies have shown the Internet is the new platform for innovation not only in the U.S. but globally. Consider the number of new applications and devices over the past few years.

Could any of us have accurately predicted this exact kind of innovation would take place? Can we accurately predict the future possibilities that exist? Probably not.

But as the Coalition suggests, we can encourage policies that will “focus not on protecting status quo but in continuing to create a fertile environment for U.S.-based innovation, expansion as well as adoption and use.”

Over 30 industry experts from 25 firms contributed to “Broadband Adoption and Use: Bridging the Divide and Increasing the Intensity of Broadband Use Across All Sectors of the Economy,” In addition to the report co-chairs, Alcatel-Lucent, Net Literacy, Telcordia, Utilities Telecom Council, PC Rebuilders and Recyclers, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, OneCommunity and many others contributed to this report.

Each report section includes a statement on the opportunity, barriers and possible policy options to be implemented at the federal, state or local levels of government. While the report reflects a few areas of contention, there is strong overall agreement that increasing the adoption and use of broadband technology and services is good for America and for Americans.

With the Internet celebrating only its 40th birthday and search functions just over 10 years old, this is still a field in the early stages of growth and value. There is much we can do to create greater inclusion in adoption and to drive for greater value across those sectors where broadband is already in use and this report includes a menu of serious options for consideration.

Future events

The “Broadband Adoption and Use: Bridging the Divide and Increasing the Intensity of Broadband Use Across All Sectors of the Economy” report will be publicly released Nov. 13 and will be showcased in live and webcast events at the FCC Headquarters on the same day at 1 p.m. EST. Please go to www.BB4US.net for more details, or contact Karen Archer Perry at the Knight Center ([email protected]) or Don Kent at Net Literacy ([email protected]).

Credits – Knight Center for Digital Excellence