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.
Digital inclusion is the ability of all Western North Carolina individuals, groups, and businesses to access and use information and communication technologies. At the heart of communication technology is the the availablabilty of fast and dependable internet.
How should WNC plan for our broadband future?
Define our WNC digital inclusion project
Organize legislative caucuses to advocate for rural North Carolina’s broadband needs, current state, and future state.
Inventory our broadband assets, digital literacy/skill opportunities, internet access points, computer devices
Future needs of broadband availability, subscription options, affordability, literacy/skills
Analyze business case options
Set goals and objectives
Determine digital inclusion deliverables
Assign tasks to achieve inclusion
Carry-out and follow-up on actions
Are you interested in supporting the WNC Broadband Digital Inclusion planning?
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region, including Western North Carolina. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.
Togetherness and a calls-to-action to improve the Appalachian areas.
A simple laptop with broadband connectivity provides economic development opportunities for employment, businesses, and nonprofits. Philip Cooper talks about his business, ‘Hire Powered Staffing’ and it’s future evolution to ‘Hired Power WNC.’
But those that are socially and economically disconnected from opportunities, there is no digital inclusion. For entrepreneurs like Philip, no office is needed. A computer, smartphone, and internet access are Philip’s office.
Digital equity is ensuring students have equal access to technology and that students and their support network receive the training necessary to use the technology toolsets.
Philip provides a shout-out to CiCi Weston, Executive Director of the Christine W Avery Learning Center – http://cwalearningcenter.com/ for their support of inner-city youth, fatherless homes. They went above and beyond to get hotspots for children that needed the internet connectivity.
Also, Philip mentions the Francine Delany school where Chromebooks and additional WiFi Hotspots were provided to do homework.
WNC Broadband Project applauds Asheville City Schools partnering with the Asheville City Schools Foundation, Buncombe County Government, the City of Asheville and the Asheville Housing Authority to works towards bridging the digital gap.
By the end of this year the following family development residents will have internet access at no cost:
Pisgah View Apartments
According the Asheville Citizens Times Skyrunner, an Asheville-based wireless and fiber broadband internet company, offered the winning bid of $520,000. Skyrunner’s proposal also includes four years of ongoing services charges. Buncombe County has pledged $100,000 in Coronavirus Relief Money, while Asheville has pledged $50,000.
Minimizing the digital divide and providing digital equity are attributes that will provide for a healthier and more economic-vibrant future in Western North Carolina.