The Ever-Widening Digital Divide
Technology changes fast. Education changes slow.
That great divide leaves us vulnerable. Within America, each state’s technology prowess sets the stage for its future, now more than ever before, as we reimagine how we work and live, due to the changes ushered in by a most unwelcome pandemic, which heightened our dependency on connectivity. Massachusetts and California are the oft-cited most technologically advanced and innovative of America’s states, while the south and midwest lag far behind.
Two issues come into play: access to technology, and education to acquire the skill sets needed to not simply keep up with the latest and greatest, but the vision and foresight to imagine what’s next.
The FCC is now working to better understand just how great the digital divide is in our country, and has come to admit its current broadband maps fail to tell the real story. (Essentially, the maps claimed a full community within a zip code had broadband connectivity when, actually, all that community had to have was one access point for connectivity. Translation? If you and everyone within your zip code had to trek to your local library to hop on the internet, the old maps claimed you and your neighbors were doing that from the comfort of your own homes.) Having access that is truly available, reliable and at your fingertips when you want it and when you need it is what the new maps hope to show. That’s a huge step forward, and it can’t come at a better time.
Another piece of FCC news of importance to you is a new project that calls for creating a framework that will enable telecom companies to share outage information with government agencies, to speed up response and recovery times. The goal is to get you reconnected faster, should you lose connectivity, such as what hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers went through during Tropical Storm Isaias and what Texas recently witnessed.
These initiatives help address one-half of the equation. Being able to use the technology — and, perhaps even more importantly, having the skillsets to ensure Americans will not be used by fake news and disinformation we come into contact with — is the other half. For that, we need to place a new emphasis on the importance of education in our schools and in our homes, wherever we connect.