ln this ~8 minute video Mashable’s Rachel Kraus walks through the many ways the digital divide has intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic and why thinking about the internet as a freeway could inform how we close it.
The video includes wonderful graphs and images to support the visualization of the technology topics including:
With a Buncombe County library card in good standing, a laptop and/or a hot spot can now be checked-out thanks to grant funding from the State Library of North Carolina through the CARES Act, Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).
Call the Ask-a-Librarian line at (828) 250-4700 to request a device. There is no charge for the service but charges may be incurred for late returns or losses.
Read More Details About Laptop or Hot Spot Checkout
How will the COVID-19 epidemic change the relationship from working in an office to working from home (WFH)?
How will WFH alter Asheville?
If 1/3 of Americans work from home, it changes transportation planning in a huge way.
Road Guy Rob
In Buncombe County, we know the bottlenecks and high capacity of traffic on I-240, I-40, and I-26 as major interstates connect and bring-in or out employees. If work from home become permanent, the commuting demand shifts from vehicular traffic to broadband traffic.
Yes, essential worker in hospitality, grocery stores, and other service industries in WNC will see needed transportation continue; but should an organization spend an enormous amount of money at their headquarter office to seat employees that cost $2.00 or more a square foot per month?
How does the shift of working in an office to WFH effect home costs? Anyplace that has healthy broadband could become the new employment location. You don’t have to commute to work and there will be a ‘flight’ to smaller communities. Available land in the outskirts of WNC will become attractive home and workplaces.
In the future there will be unprecedented availability of gigabit broadband which is available through fiber networks.
Urban cities can have 130 subscribers per mile. Rural communities can have 6-7 subscribers per mile. Fiber doesn’t get any cheaper based on where you are putting it in the ground. Yet in rural America it is even more important to bridge the digital divides.
Shirley Bloomfield, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association CEO (Human Resource office in Biltmore Park)
The Big Picture
America and WNC is returning to a decentralized economy. The world economy is replacing the suburb commutes with the internet at the speed of light. Communtable work distances in WNC is limitless. Additionally, our carbon footprint will be reduced. Political and socioeconomic landscapes will change. What will be the role of mass transportation in WNC?
In the coronavirus relief broadband bill ‘Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act’ individuals can receive a subsidy to help minimize the digital divide.
The bill offers a $50 monthly discount for broadband services and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a computer or tablet purchased through a participating provider (one discount per eligible household).
While Western North Carolina continues to strive for opportunities to maximize our broadband growth, the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI), BAND-NC, and NC Broadband Infrastructure Office have a goal of increasing the number of North Carolinians with internet in their homes, making NC “first in digital inclusion.”
The program outlined four challenges communities have in including all families in broadband services:
Access—getting broadband into homes
Subscriptions—helping families afford broadband services. In all, just 59% of North Carolina families subscribe to broadband services
Devices—ensuring that children and adults have the equipment they need to take classes, work from home, or access health care
Technical Assistance—assisting families in learning how to effectively use high-speed access
BAND-NC asks communities to develop solutions that address each of these issues. Data from the NC Broadband Infrastructure Office shows wide disparities in adoption of broadband services, with both a rural-urban and an income divide. The ultimate goal of the program is to make North Carolina the first state in the nation where every county has a digital inclusion plan in place.
Join the WNC Broadband Initiative in making Western North Carolina more ‘digitally inclusive.’
I am already shocked. As a father of two digitally-connected children, I know first hand of the significant value of having broadband available. The digital value is having computers available, the knowledge of how to apply computers, with broadband being available on demand, to engage with society for knowledge, communication, health, and more.
Additionally, having volunteered at several area schools and community centers, I see the digital divide. If students don’t have broadband available at home, immediately the student is disconnected from our digital world of learning opportunities.
Digital Tools & Learning. (2020, December 10). Benton Foundation. https://www.benton.org/blog/digital-tools-learning
The author of this article, Marc Czarnecki; helps to minimize the rural divide in America by supporting the WNC Broadband Project.
The WNC Broadband Team advocates for the necessary broadband improvements for our #digitallives.
Yes Fast Company is talking about Western North Carolina.
What is the Fast Company? They are a leading business media brand, with an editorial focus on innovation in technology, leadership, world changing ideas, creativity, and design.
And Western North Carolina, is rural America; attractive for technology, leadership, changing ideas, creativity, and design.
But, WNC lacks a dependable and fast internet infrastructure for the future for everybody.
WNC – Lifestyle
If broadband can be increased in rural areas, it would have a dramatic impact, both for people currently living in those areas and for people who are looking to shift their lifestyle away from the cities or the suburbs and move to a more rural location.
Brie Reynolds, the Senior Career Specialist at FlexJobs
WNC – More Living Space at a Lower Cost of Living
Two-thirds of remote workers are interested in moving out of the city in order to enjoy more living space and a lower cost of living. However, 67% indicate that internet availability affects their decision, and 36% said a lack of access to broadband internet is preventing them from making the move.