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Author Archive

Is there an app for that?

March 19th, 2010 by Elana Berkowitz - Director, Economic Opportunity - Omnibus Broadband Initiative

Recent years have seen an explosion in content creation for handheld and desktop devices. Both at home and abroad, we have seen significant innovation in applications having social impact ranging from text message donations for Haiti  to online civic engagement tools to mobile medical data collection.

But there is still much room to innovate when it comes to social-purpose apps. That’s why the FCC and the Knight Foundation are partnering to sponsor an “Apps for Inclusion” competition to develop apps specifically supporting people at the edge of the digital divide – i.e., those who traditionally have lower adoption rates and are often geographically and economically isolated.

With $100,000 in prize money from the Knight Foundation, “Apps for Inclusion” encourages technology innovators and tinkerers to collaborate with local organizations and individuals currently underserved by the digital revolution to rethink government and community services and create tools making it easier for citizens to receive those services through mobile and online applications.

We want to leverage your talent and the ideas of Americans across the country to foster the creation of a new suite of social-purpose apps manifesting the core goals of the National Broadband Plan - the utilization of technology to improve Americans access to health, education, public safety, key government services and more.

All entries will be public and will be seen by a judging panel of experts as well as policy makers and citizens from across the country. Winners will be named in several categories, including “people’s choice awards.”

The competition is set to launch soon. Sign up now to learn official contest details as they are released.  
 

Low Country Broadband

October 19th, 2009 by Elana Berkowitz - Director, Economic Opportunity - Omnibus Broadband Initiative

Elana Berkowitz BBCommissioners Clyburn and Copps - both have called South Carolina home though with a bit of a Low Country/Upstate rivalry - returned home for a series of public field hearings and events on broadband. On a rainy Monday night, in the rural town of Ravenel, SC (pop. 2,288) over 100 people came to the Community Hall for a Consumer Forum on Broadband. After brief remarks from a panel that included Commissioners Copps and Clyburn, the mayors of Ravenel, nearby Hollywood (pop 4,398) and Meggett (pop 1,363), local pastors and community leaders, the floor was open to the public. In an area with more than 18% of the population living below the poverty line (vs. 12.6% nationwide) the issue of what ‘affordable service' meant while residents were ‘struggling to put food on the table' was a recurring theme. Herman Allen, a local parade float maker, came to the mic to explain that he has been losing business because of the intermittent quality of his internet service which prevented him from promptly responding to email requests from customers. He then took a moment to apologize to some folks in the crowd and mayors on the dais for emails about pending floats that had yet to be responded to!

Tuesday morning was a standing room only field hearing at Trident Technical College in Charleston, SC. The broad range of panelists included advocates for the elderly, community development corporation executives, academics and wireless entrepreneurs. Commissioner Copps told the crowd, "South Carolina has been on the wrong side of too many gaps too many times … Truth is, government was asleep at the switch for too many years, thinking that somehow broadband would just magically appear-even in those places where there was no business plan to attract any business to build it.  But the good news is that change has come."

The last event of our brief trip to South Carolina was a visit to the Medical University of South Carolina to learn more about their telemedicine programs including stroke care. South Carolina has one of the highest rates of stroke in the nation. Effective stroke treatment with drugs like TPA, a clot buster, require very fast decision making and drug administration, often within only a few hours of stroke onset.  Leveraging broadband to deal with this challenge, MUSC set up a hub-and-spoke style system that connects their stroke specialists to physicians' practices in small towns in the region. MUSC provides on-call physicians available through broadband enabled online video for full consultations. Prior to the launch of REACH (Remote Evaluation of Acute Ischemic Stroke) only 39% of South Carolinians lived within 60 minutes of primary stroke care, with the 6 local doctors offices now participating in the program, 56% of South Carolinians are within 60 minutes of frontline stroke care. MUSC is also piloting telehealth projects for psychiatric care and high risk pregnancies, which have seen significant cost savings. These broadband healthcare applications have proven quite popular, saving patients a full day of travel from nearby Beaufort or Florence and the cost of gas and childcare traditionally required to see a specialist. MUSC Ob/Gyn Dr. Chris Robinson explained, "Every patient was offered the choice between telemedicine and coming to Charleston. No one chose to come to Charleston."



Capture The Phone Numbers Using Your Camera Phone

If you have a camera and a 2D matrix code reader on your mobile phone, you can capture the FCC Phone numbers right to your phone by following these three easy steps:
Step 1: Take a photograph of one of the codes below using the camera on your mobile phone.
Step 2: Use your phone's Datamatrix or QR Code reader to decode the information on the photograph. Please note, these code readers are device specific and are available to download on the internet.
Step 3: Store the decoded address information to your phone's address book and use it with your Maps or GPS application.

Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones