I heard an NPR story the other day about the FCC‘s recent ruling that diverts monthly fees from rural telephone service to rural broadband service. The “Universal Service Fund” or something similar has been around since the early 20th century, charging a small fee on our phone bills to subsidize phone service for rural areas and the poor.
The newly minted “Connect America Fund” now allocates this money for mobile telephone and broadband in rural communities and needy areas. As I’ve discussed in a blog post earlier this year, access to the internet can not only offer rural U.S. citizens access to critical information, but it can provide them health care benefits that could literally save lives.
The city of West Palm Beach, Florida, is on to something.
The popular tourist destination, and home to 100,000 residents, has embarked upon its own digital revolution of sorts. In an effort to develop business, bring digital communication to the underserved, and make its citizens feel more connected to the local government, West Palm Beach has pulled out nearly all the technological stops.
To bridge the digital divide between wealthy and impoverished populations, the city has installed free Wi-Fi in many public places, including its famous waterfront and the public library. Two Youth Empowerment Centers now include audio/visual recording labs to encourage teens’ multimedia skills and interests. Additionally, in terms of constituent outreach, a planned “Tele-Town Hall” will enable residents to connect with city officials via phone, local television, and social media.
Ever hear about an interesting location, historical site or tourist attraction and thought “wow, I only live five miles from there, I should check it out”? Well, it just happens that there are numerous groups of students who are engaging with the uniqueness of their communities and sharing their knowledge with the world.
A recentAmerican Forces Press Service article reported that the Department of Defense (DOD) launched a visionary program to renovate or replace 134 of its 194 schools worldwide. The DOD allotted $3.7 billion to bring all of its schools up to the highest technology levels by 2016 and Congress appropriated nearly $400 million in fiscal 2011 to aid the effort. This is a fantastic program that builds on the Department of Education’s current initiative to prioritize technologies such as telepresence for K-12 schools.
As technology becomes more prevalent in the classroom, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) has embraced multiple initiatives, from building robots to teaching Japanese in a virtual learning program. According to the story, military children move an average of six to eight times over the course of their school careers, making these programs particularly important. Read More »
I already passed along some tips for making conference calls more productive and pleasant using telepresence… so I thought I’d share with you an example of the successful video conference call in action.
In a recentWall Street Journal article, Sarah Max reported on CUNA Mutual Group, a financial services provider with an 80-person sales force spread throughout the country—and in large part working remotely. CUNA relies on video technology for regular meetings, including their annual cocktail reception. Employees enjoy drinks and refreshments they provide for themselves at home, but through video still interact and get to know each other personally. No uncomfortable heels or last-minute shoe shines required in order to impress! Read More »