Broadband Brings Families Together For The Holidays

12/22/2010 by Aaron Rossi

For many, the holidays bring the company of loved ones, friends and family, eating together, opening presents and playing games. Of course, these days, family members and loved ones are scattered across the country and even the globe. It can sometimes be very difficult to have everyone in one place. Different circumstances such as military deployments, lack of funds, and the hours spent traveling can make a trip home for the holidays very complicated if not impossible.

Luckily, the advancements in technology and broadband make staying in touch easier and even more affordable. People are now using instant video chats to connect in real time with their loved ones. Although it may not be a hug from someone you care about, a video conference can ease the hardship of being away from family members this holiday season.

The use of broadband brings a number of amazing advancements to our daily lives. Just being able to see a loved one’s face on the computer screen can brighten someone’s day. So this holiday season, remember the technologies that allow entire families to keep in touch all around the world.

NextGenWeb wishes everyone a happy holiday season!

Broadband Provides an Easier Holiday Shopping Experience

12/21/2010 by Aaron Rossi

For many gift buyers, looking for parking or standing in long lines does not seem like the best use of time during the holiday season. And for many people, their broadband connection allows them a more comfortable and enjoyable shopping experience with out all the hustle and bustle. Despite the downturn in our economy, this year, online shopping has marked a 12 percent increase with $27.46 billion spent, according to digital business analytics group, ComScore.

Over 1,500 retailers with a major online presence, came together to offer “free shipping day” on Friday, December 17th. Free shipping day sold 61 percent more online merchandise than the same shopping day last year.

And if you’re still not sure what to gifts to purchase for your loved ones and dear friends, you can check out the Wall Street Journal’s online Holiday Gift Guide. But hurry up!

FOSI Conference Inspires World of Online Safety

12/20/2010 by Shana Glickfield

This week, the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) released a recap summary of video footage from their November conference. FOSI assembled policymakers, industry leaders, educators, legislators, law enforcement, Internet safety advocates, teachers and technologists for FOSI’s Fourth Annual Conference & Exhibition.  The conference, titled “Internet Freedom, Safety & Citizenship: A Global Call to Action,” took place here in Washington, DC.

FOSI works with different groups to promote best practices, tools and methods to ensure the online world is safe for children and their families, while still respecting free expression. This work is done through developing sound public policy, good technology, educating online users and opening discussions through special events.

Topics included:

  • 10 years of online safety reports
  • Cyberbullying: What’s really going on?
  • Digital Citizenship: Safety, literacy, and ethics for life in a digital world

Even if you weren’t able to attend the conference, you can get highlights from speakers and attendees in the video below.

Technology Revolutionizing Education

12/17/2010 by NextGenWeb

Today, NextGenWeb attended a Brookings event titled “Leveraging Technology to Reclaim American Educational Leadership,” where leaders from the public, private and non-profit sectors identified ways to best utilize technology to revolutionize education in the US.

One of the panels discussed incentives to innovate as well as technology adoption, featuring the CEO of ePals.com, Ed Fish, Executive Director of the Educational Leadership AT&T Foundation, Marilyn Reznick, and Director of the Program of Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, Paul Peterson.

Mr. Fish opened up the discussion by noting that K through 12 schools can benefit most from technology. He believes technology allows the ability to host collaboration and in turn saves taxpayers money. Policy efforts that remove technology adoption barriers will help states and schools use new technology models that better engage students, teachers and parents, making the educational experience efficient and compelling.

Ms. Reznick believes private sector investment in education is important to ensure children are competitive in the global marketplace. She would like to see companies engage more with schools and teachers to define talents and skills needed in the workforce as well as map out solutions and best practices.

Mr. Peterson also agrees the catalyst that will move education forward is major investment from the private sector. He used the Middlebury College/K12 Inc. collaboration as a best practice–two entities working together to supply online foreign-language courses that enable college-ready students. Peterson also noted that the abundant broadband capacity of the US is a vital key to driving digital learning.

Colleges like MIT have incorporated an online component to their courses. Nearly 85 percent are taught virtually, increasing the quality of the instruction due to transparency. Online education is certainly growing in popularity and use because of its lower cost and ability to provide courses that traditional schools simply cannot.

Broadband Powering State & Local Governments – Greencastle, Indiana

12/17/2010 by Aaron Rossi

NextGenWeb is continuing its spotlight on how broadband is powering state and local governments. We were able to catch up with Sue Murray, the mayor of Greencastle, Indiana, for a phone interview to get a better understanding of how she is utilizing broadband in her community to create jobs and deliver services more efficiently. Mayor Murray was kind enough to provide us with some slides outlining broadband in her community. Click below to view the slides and listen to the interview.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Broadband in Greencastle, Indiana by Mayor Sue Murray

NextGenWeb Talks Technology with Police Chief Russell York

12/16/2010 by NextGenWeb

NextGenWeb recently had the opportunity to speak with Fort Wayne, Indiana Chief of Police, Russell York. Fort Wayne, located in northeast Indiana, is the second largest city in the state with a population of approximately 251,000 people. Below, Chief York discusses the ways in which technology has helped to transform national security and public safety platforms in Indiana and throughout the country. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, broadband goes hand-in-hand with emergency preparedness and response.

NextGenWeb Question: Over the past decade, how have emergency preparedness and response been transformed by the advent of technology?

Chief York Answer: Over the past decade, emergency response and preparedness have been transformed significantly through the development of new technologies. Most notably would be in the area of data and voice communications. A decade ago, most public safety entities underwent the conversion from analog to 800 megahertz systems. Now, agencies are converting to the P25 systems which offer enhanced interoperability.

NextGenWeb: Can you discuss the importance of a 21st century communications infrastructure to ensuring that emergency response and public safety entities are able to communicate and share real-time information?

Chief York: In order to comply with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) guidelines, all public safety agencies should strive for interoperability.

NextGenWeb: What types of information are available to modern-day first responders that are transforming the way they do their jobs that were not available 10 years ago?

Chief York: The following are types of information and technology that are available to modern-day responders that were not available ten years ago:
• Information regarding individuals, vehicles, and property ( IDACS, NCIC) via on-board computers
• License plate recognition systems
• On-board audio and video systems
• Wireless Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) capability
• On-board scanners and printers to obtain license and registration information and print citations
• Global Positioning Systems on-board and through CAD
• Computer Aided Dispatching

NextGenWeb: Can you discuss a particular situation where you or someone you know in the field of emergency preparedness or response benefited from real-time information sharing made possible by broadband?

Chief York: The benefits of real time information sharing abound. On a daily basis, members of our agency are sharing information with agencies nationwide in the fight against crime.

NextGenWeb: Do you think the United States is in front of or behind the rest of the world in terms of 21st century communications infrastructure available to public safety professionals?

Chief York: I believe that the United States, in general, leads the world in terms of 21st Century communications infrastructure available and affordable to public safety professionals.

Search & Libraries: The Core of Our Internet Experience

12/16/2010 by Shana Glickfield

The process of searching for information is hardly new to American life.  Our tools, however, have changed significantly with the evolution of the broadband Internet.  Much like libraries provided a paper based repository of information, today’s Internet provides that information and so much more, all at the click of a mouse.

This topic was explored in depth at yesterday’s Media Future Now event.  Search expert Vanessa Fox pointed out that we use search to solve problems, answer questions and generally find information. We even search within websites, apps stores, email inboxes, and have come to expect search to work for everything now.

Geoff Livingston of Zoetica Media explored the world of semantic search, as more and more of what we experience in search is defined by things like sentiment and social connections.  Adding a voice of caution around our reliance on search top results, Livingston advocated for increased digital literacy efforts.   “Our society needs to move to teach thinking and validation skills to filter information.”

Ron Goodstein, Associate Professor of Marketing at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and Beth Shankle, Research Director at the National Press Club also added their voices to the discussion.  Goodstein is optimistic about the opportunities to leave traditional demographic data out and target people around their behavior and interests, always being respectful of the consumer.  Shankle brought the conversation full circle, concluding that libraries again hold the key. “Libraries seem like the dinosaurs of the information age, but they’re actually at the cutting edge.”

To watch the event in its entirety, click here.

Investment Drives Broadband, Broadband Creates Jobs

12/15/2010 by Jessica Milano

by Jessica Milano
Senior Fellow, Democratic Leadership Council

With the nation facing record deficits, policymakers need to focus on what can be done outside of tax cuts and spending hikes to jumpstart the nation’s economy. One thing government can do is create an economic climate for business to invest, innovate and hire. That is a key finding of a report I released for the Democratic Leadership Council earlier this year titled, “Where Jobs Come From: The Role of Innovation, Investment, and Infrastructure in Economic and Job Growth.”

The third key finding of the report, driven by economic research and analysis, is that job creation is directly tied to business investment. For the purpose of this posting, I would like to focus on one area where investment has had and will continue to have an impact on job creation– broadband.

The broadband industry has been a lighthouse during this economic storm. According to a report released by Broadband for America, while business investment (nonresidential private investment) declined by 18.1 percent during the recession, broadband investment declined by only 3.3 percent buoyed by over $100 billion investment by AT&T and Verizon in wireless and wireline networks. This is significant because, as I point out in my report, investment in information and communication technologies (ICT) like broadband contributed almost one percent (0.8%) to average annual real GDP growth in the United States from 1994 to 2000.

But what does all of this investment in innovation and broadband infrastructure mean for jobs? A great deal, in fact. There are two specific ways in which this investment creates jobs. Direct jobs in the industry itself through developing new technologies, building the infrastructure, and laying broadband lines. And indirectly through the increased opportunities that are available by having access to a 21st century communications network. Application developers for smart handsets are one example as are new companies like Zip Car which rely on customers’ access to mobile broadband.

Several studies have shown that fast, reliable broadband investment improves the operational efficiency of businesses, making it easier to reach new markets, grow business, and hire additional employees. One study in particular, released by the Brookings Institution, found that for every three million new lines deployed, nearly 300,000 economy-wide jobs are created. This is particularly important for small businesses and businesses in small communities.

While this post has highlighted the enormous amount of private investment from broadband service providers, it is worth noting that innovators, entrepreneurs, and small businesses create up to two-thirds of new jobs annually. It is these types of jobs, that rely on broadband, that will continue to lead us out of this current economic downturn and into a greater economic future for America.

New Twitter Chat for Local Government

12/14/2010 by Shana Glickfield

Continuing our spotlight on broadband and local government, we want to highlight a new online communication tool for people inside local government to better learn from each other.  Started by DC’s own open government champion Mike Rupert, Localgovchat is a discussion that takes place on Twitter on a weekly basis (Wednesdays at 9pm EST).  People are encouraged to login and tweet to share their issues and ideas around local government.

But for localgov communications folks – who tend to be the public relations, media relations, community outreach, graphics designers, publicists, webmasters, copyeditors, community managers, speechwriters, consiglieres, etc. for their one single elected client – we have our own set of issues, talents and limitations. Let’s help each other.

To add your comments to the conversation, simply tweet using the #localgovchat hashtag. You can also get involved by searching the #localgovchat hashtag, by following @localgovchat on Twitter, or dropping by the LocalGovChat Blog.

NextGenWeb Spotlight On… Broadband Powering State & Local Governments

12/13/2010 by Shana Glickfield

Broadband deployment and adoption are not only priorities at the federal level, but also among state and local government bodies.  A broadband connected community brings jobs, economic development, new forms of civic participation, and so much more.  And with that, state and local governments are recognizing the impact and getting proactive.

So how can state and local government bodies get involved?   They can set broadband connectivity goals, work with stakeholders to enact supportive broadband policies, and also encourage adoption from diverse backgrounds that comprise a community.

The FCC has taken steps to support governments in these efforts, in addition to the National Broadband Plan.   Broadband.gov houses presentations that showcase state and local level best practices and toolkits for proceeding with a state and local broadband plans.

NextGenWeb is also working to support broadband at the state and local level.  This week, we look forward to sharing success stories from policymakers, a webinar for those considering this issue led by “Mayor of Broadband” Graham Richard, and much more.  We’ll get things started with the interview below.  We recently spoke with John Horrigan, former Director of Research for the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, for his take on the broadband at the state and local level.

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