Connecting Broadband with Economic Opportunities: Challenges and Success Stories/transcript

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>> Good morning.

>> We are going to get started. I'm Dr. Nicol Turner Lee, Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. So people understand what I do there, I do regulatory and policy networking, I work on pending issues with regards to communications policy and high tech, also in the middle of writing a book on digital inclusion and digital equity. When I'm not doing that, I have a portfolio of emerging technology in artificial intelligence. I'm happy to be the moderator for the panel. I won't have to say a lot, which is interesting because I'm normally talking. Because I'm surrounded by, as you can tell we brought everybody to the party, a group of very esteemed and distinguished leaders in the area of digital equity that are going to make the ties to economic mobility. The way this is going to work before we get started, each of our panelists will give about two to three minutes of remarks, where they will tell you a little about who they are, what their organization is, and how they are looking at this question of digital inclusion, when they are done I'm going to bring back a question that brings everything together, and once that question is answered, I'm going to actually then take it to all of you, to help us brainstorm what we think might be the next steps. There is some work involved for all of you sitting at these tables. So don't leave at that time. I will find you and bring you back in here, so you can be part of this very engaging dialogue. Again, strap on your seat belt, and listen to people who have joined us from all over the country to speak about their unique experiences tackling this issue. Clayton, we will start with you and go around.

>> CLAYTON BANKS: Thank you, Dr. Lee. Thank you to the IGF USA for having us. And this is great to be in D.C., I'm from New York. My company is called Silicon Harlem, I'm the CEO. Essentially, we are, we have two key things that we focus on and that is everyone deserves a connection, everyone deserves a connection and everything will be connected. When we think about that type of new infrastructure, we are making sure that areas like Harlem which is where we operate in upper Manhattan, which by the way is the size of Atlanta, 700,000 people. We are trying to make sure we can provide affordable service to people so we can close those gaps that we have been reading about from homework to health to improvement, we also work on resiliency, thanks to the great mind of Greta B, my girl who is here, and also thank Judith for putting this panel together and everyone else. Anyway, we are very much focused on infrastructure, and ensuring that all of our citizens are connected. A lot more later. I'm trying to keep my remarks short.

>> Good morning. I too say thank you. My name is Monique Tate, I'm from Detroit. In order to keep my remarks within a proximity of the time frame that we were given, I'm going to read. That way I will not go on and on, and violate my time frame. The project that I work with and represent is the Equitable Internet Initiative. Detroit tops the list of worst connected cities nationally with nearly 60 percent of our residents lacking in home broadband subscriptions and 40 percent lacking any connection whatsoever. In Detroit 38 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level and since 2014 tens of thousands have faced water shut off and eviction due to tax foreclosure and I will say illegal tax foreclose, we have tax foreclosed on 65,000 properties. Many of which could have been prevented. Overwhelmingly, Detroit's low income majority African American population is not benefiting from the private investments, improvements in city services and infrastructural development taking place in the 7.2 miles of about 163 mile city, keep that in mind as well defined as the greater downtown, less than 1 percent of Detroit's population lives in the greater downtown. It has the highest concentration of college educated adults, and an average per capita income that is roughly 20,000 compared to the 15,000 average for the city as a whole. I know of course people on the coast listen to that annual salary and they are like, what? The equitable Internet grew out of allied media projects, it's a nine year track record of digital media education and community technology. In 2012 Allied Media partnered with Open Technology Institute of New America Foundation to create the digital stewards program and we refer to as digital stewards both here and in New York. The program trains neighborhood leaders in designing and deploying community wireless networks with a commitment to the Detroit digital justice principles which emphasize access, participation, common ownership and healthy communities. The following year community wireless mesh networks were prototyped in five Detroit neighborhoods, mine was one of them. I also became a digital steward. Ultimately the digital stewards program led to the formation of the Detroit community technology project, in 2014, and we have now developed a broader community technology education and organizing work to share our best practices. To date we implemented the digital stewards training with leaders from ten Detroit neighborhoods, and have supported 11 community groups, internationally, to adopt and modify the training. I'll stop the reading right there and indicate that it's a collaborative effort. There are three neighborhoods that are represented in the City of Detroit, they were strategically selected because they are in the next mode of gentrification in our city. I represent one of those neighborhoods, which is the north end of Detroit. Each of our neighborhoods is installing at least 50 locations, with low cost or no cost wi fi Internet. We at this point are racing to try and get 50 installations by the end of the month. You know what day this is. But we are doing very well. We are, we have 38 right now, and I just had a business call me, new business called me this morning wanting it also. We are creating an impact and behind those connections, we are also, we will also do backup batteries to them because a intranet will exist amongst them, because we intend to create a disaster preparedness plan amongst the community, so that we are able to handle different types of situations. We of course have taken the youth into consideration, and we have a next gen app group as well. They are writing apps, and have already written apps, one because in some of our neighborhoods we have pollution issues, as well as a very high asthma rate in the neighborhood I work in. So the app they wrote was to be able to monitor the air to help to determine about things that will trigger the asthma. With that, I'll stop until we get to questions.

>> NICOL TURNER-LEE: Good job, Monique.

>> Hi, I'm Donna Wills Scheeder, immediate Past President of IFLA, the global voice of libraries. I want to tell you that I was very frustrated in the last session, because I wanted to bring up the issue that none of those scenarios said anything about investing in digital literacy. We all know that there is digital divides, the digital divide not only includes direct connections in households so that there needs to be public access to technology, but it also means that people need to have the skills about how to use these tools and how to understand and be able to use the information that they are getting from the Internet. That is where libraries come in. I'm going to give you a few examples of what libraries are doing. This is in the United States, because this is the USA Government Forum, but believe me, I can give you examples for all over the world about how libraries are contributing to empowering individual citizens to be able to be successful and happy in the world. The U.S. Public Library Association has a program called The feedback from public libraries staff directed PLA to develop courses on the most basic skills such as using a computer, navigating a Web site, and searching, modules are video based with narration, six to 22 minutes long, written at the fourth grade reading level, and helping learners practice skills like using a mouse and setting up passwords. Nearly all modules are available in Spanish as well as English. Nearly 20,000 users complete 15,000 modules each year on digital Many public libraries systems have put their own brand on this, it's all available on their Web site. But also, when people come into libraries, they can get individual help with these tutorials. Idaho's train the trainer program, Boise and Twin Falls may not seem like major cities for immigrants, but both have speakers of Hindi, Russian and other foreign languages who need digital literacy skills to be successful in America. The Idaho commission for libraries in partnership with the office for refugees trains foreign language speakers to teach digital literacy to others in their language group. The trainers offer workshops and one on one coaching sessions in library facilities and in their communities using library resources. Individuals are getting skills they need to apply for jobs, find information for their families, help their kids with school, and live in our 21st century America. When we talk about cities, we know there is a smart city movement in the United States. One of the, actually around the world, and libraries are partnering with their cities and municipal governments in order to be part of helping their city become smarter. So as global competition in most cities grows there is a stronger need for libraries, that is book repositories but as learning centers for today's knowledge economy. Often at meetings like this, I hear tech people say we need knowledge hubs. I say we already have them. They are called libraries. We are in a age where computers and tablets are jumping ahead of books, public libraries best leverage technology to serve their communities's residents. There is a digital learning program for teens connecting young adults to interactive media tools, mentors and institutions throughout Chicago. While offered at five libraries, the U media announced it is expanding, it provides both youth and adults with introductions to 3D software, 3D printers and laser cutting and has struck a partnership with other organizations to bolster young women's skills in analytics and programming. There is examples based on community needs of how libraries are meeting needs for digital literacy. But in the last session, you heard about the red maps and blue maps and the problems in rural America. Rural America does face significant challenges. It has the lowest home broadband Internet adoption rates, lowest employment and economic growth rates, the fewest positions per capita and lowest educational attainment rates. Rural libraries are part of the solution to addressing these concerns, often providing the only free public computer and Internet access and assisting patrons in gaining technology skills to pursue employment, entrepreneurship and educational opportunities. However, they don't have enough resources. When we talk about challenges later in this room, one of the things we need to talk about is the challenges faced by small rural libraries and their need to meet their communities' needs and get the resources that they need to do this efficiently. I hope you will think of me as the library lady and when you are talking about solutions to these challenges, libraries will be the first word you think of.

>> Hi, my name is Anne Schwieger, and I'm the broadband and digital equity advocate for the City of Boston. Thank you for the opportunity to be here and share about how we are thinking about economic opportunities and connectivity. We see broadband and digital equity as foundational to all of the things we care about as a city, in terms of access to economic opportunities of course, the ability to pursue educational paths that people choose, access to innovation pipelines that we hear about in cities, and importantly, we also see broadband and digital equity as crucially important to democracy. We want everyone to have the tools, skills and access to the Internet that they need to protect and to affirm rights and to evolve Government and the institutions of Civil Society to serve the needs of everyone and to protect the rights of all people. We know that there are a lot of changes that need to happen in the broadband realm in order for this vision to be a reality. To that end, we focus on three main areas right now. One is that we invest Government resources in digital equity organizations all across the City of Boston, these organizations teach digital skills, they expand access to digital tools, and they support people in connecting to the Internet at home through affordable options, for more affordable options I should say. We work to address the primary reasons that about one in five households in Boston do not presently have a subscription to broadband in the home. That in a nutshell is market failure. We work very hard to create the conditions that allow private sector investment in broadband infrastructure to flourish across the city. We have a ways to go but we have made progress. Right now, there are five ISPs who serve households in Boston. Three are broadband cable providers, so they have a traditional cable franchise relationship with the city. Two are over the top providers, providing just Internet, no cable service. Finally, we really think it's important that our constituents be connected to an Internet that is a good Internet. We believe that regulations and policies that protect the free and open Internet protect privacy and enable access to affordable options ...

 (okay, I lost the room, I don't know what happened there, we were connected to another room maybe).

Wow. That was going to be my speech. So ....

>> If I can bring it back, my name is Katie, and I live in Knoxville, Tennessee and work with the SEAD Task Force, SEAD, short for sustainable and equitable agricultural development. It's a rural task force of a regional Tennessee group that focuses on economic development and so our focus, we are not tech people. We never have been. We are community people. So what we focus on is what issues affect our, the leaders of our group, who are real people, what affects them the most. We kept coming up, we had this brainstorming session and kept coming up with all that great ideas, we wanted to do youth work, wanted to do arts, we wanted to do get out the vote type work. We just couldn't do anything without the Internet. That was just the truth. It was a hard stop. So after that we began examine what we could do to get affordable broadband into our communities, because 34 percent of Tennesseans do not have access to even one broadband provider. There is the option of satellite, it often costs upwards of a hundred dollars a month which for somebody who makes $6,000 a year is just not an option. They are choosing between Internet and other bills, and the food for their children. So we found that that wasn't okay. So we started organizing in at the county level, we found that local governments were a lot more amenable to our position than the state Government was. We found that county level governments really understood what the problem was, they are sometimes run by good old boys networks. We passed county resolutions in 20 counties and brought them to national, and we were met with kind of a lot of that's okay I don't know what is happening (chuckles) okay. (pause).

 (voices in the background).

Okay. Well, okay. I should say also that Appalachia is where I am, Tennessee is part of the Appalachian region. I heard (indecipherable) mentioned in the previous panel. I have strong reputations of JD Vance but I'm happy to talk to you at any length about overbeer, but suffice to say that Appalachia is more complicated than people understand. It is a place where the history of extraction, not only extraction of coal but also extraction of people's knowledge and their labor, people have been going in and trying to tell stories about Appalachia, for a long time and they leave and tell stories to other people and Appalachia never receives a cent from it. Broadband is part of media justice, so part of restoring our people to the narrative. And that is, is my time up? Is that what is going on? Okay. (chuckles). (pause).

 (voice in the background).

Well, the last thing that I wanted to say, I guess, was that we found that broadband access, it's a precondition to stability for people. There is a lot of change we want to make. But we can't do it until people have access to abilities, to the ability to feed their families, to education, to personal life things that a lot of us take for granted. That is why we are working on it. We are eager to learn more about the tech side of things, because we are not experts on it yet. But we are experts on our people, we are experts in what they need. We hope to be listened to on that. I want to say that I think that people in Appalachia love their home, and they should be able to thrive in it.

>> Hello, IGF USA, thank you, Judith, Dr. Lee, organizers for having us here. I'm with Comcast, and as one of the largest broadband providers in the country, obviously we very much share the belief that connectivity is essential, in the 21st century digital economy, we all know that those who are online have better access to education, to job training, job placement, and even healthcare. So we wanted to help bring the dream of broadband to more Americans, regardless of their income level, and regardless of where they live. So about 7 years ago we created a program called Internet essentials, which today is the largest and most successful broadband adoption program in the country. We have connected so far over four million Americans and counting in a million households. Basically we offer discount service for $9.95 a month and discounted computers. The key component to the program is digital literacy training which is what Donna was talking about. It is the key metric for success in the program. So when we were designing the program, we looked at who is on line, who is not on line and why. What we found was that the share of Americans who have access to broadband but choose to not adopt is about three times or a little over three times the number of Americans who don't have broadband. Why, why are these Americans not adopting? What the research shows is studies by census bureau and MTIA seems to show the main hindrance seems to be a lack of relevance or it's the perceived lack of relevance, which is related to the concept of digital literacy that Donna was talking about. We emphasize that component of the program. We think it's the key to the success of the program. People are more likely to adopt broadband when they have a concrete understanding of what it can do for their daily lives. We also partner with thousands of local community leaders and partners all across the country to get the word out, about the program and offer the training that is needed, we also cater to a diverse set of communities. Our materials are available in 14 different languages. We think that's, all of that has helped to drive success with the program, and we are very proud of it. We think it's made a real world impact in the lives of millions of Americans. It's heartwarming to hear story after story of the change that's brought to people's daily lives. I could run through a bunch of numbers but I won't. Suffice it to say that most people who subscribe to the program are very happy with it. They think it's had a positive impact on their children's education, and on their own professional development and quality of life. Going forward, we are continuing to invest in Internet essentials. We started the program by targeting school age children, because we wanted to help narrow the homework gap. But over the years, we have expanded eligibility to residents of HUD housing and to seniors and community college students. We have pilots for the latter two groups. We are hoping to expand eligibility beyond that. We have also increased many times, we have added in home wi fi so you can connect on any device, we have also added 40 hours of access to Xfinity hot spots, 18 million hot spots all over the country. So looking forward, we are proud of the impact that the program has had, but we think there is a lot more to be done. Certainly, we want to help bring the promise of the Internet to millions more Americans.

>> Good morning. My name is Susan Strachan, and I'm going to read also and I apologize for that. But I would like to stay on my time. I'm with California State University Chico geographical information center. We are applied research center. We have a wide broadband portfolio. One of our major items in the portfolio is measuring broadband under contract to the California public utilities commission. We do their mobile broadband measurement program across the state. We are currently working on a fixed broadband measurement program. We have collaborated with the San Francisco bay chapter of the Internet Society on a fine grain analysis of mobile broadband in farm fields which is we believe the first study of that access. I'd like to thank them for the opportunity to be here. We facilitate world broadband consortia in ten counties in California which is the size of Ohio. This is not California where there is Disneyland and surfing and Silicon Valley and hoodies, this is the California where there are rice fields and orchards and timber harvest. Like most of the rural U.S. broadband connectivity is a challenge. Digital literacy and adoption is also, but connectivity is a challenge for us. 76 percent of rural California households do not have broadband, while 99 percent of urban households do. It's a huge difference for us. The economic equity issue I'd like you to consider today is that educational access is hampered in rural areas because of the new increasing focus on online education. California is starting a stand alone online community college, absolutely 100 percent online. It will include both associates degrees as well as technical training. At the same time, California is now offering your first year free of community college, if you are a first time freshman. If you combine those two evolutions which are absolutely fantastic, but there are people that can't afford to move where there is better Internet. Research at our university shows that students much prefer face to face instruction. Almost 80, almost 90 percent of students who are in a online program surveyed said they would rather be face to face. But then they also say, you know what, 40 percent of them say face to face online is almost as good. But the problem is, that the standards for broadband service, California abysmally, six megabytes down, one megabyte up, do not support face to face online video. One megabyte up is just not going to do it for you. DSL with its poor latency is just, these technical things, you will get 'em, poor latency is not going to do it for you. The federal government has started requiring their infrastructure grant funders to provide 25, 3. 25, 3 should not be aspirational. 25/3 should be a floor. We hope that in the funding broadband that they are able to provide the service, that is going to serve distance education. This is a matter of equity. Many students in rural areas can't afford to move to where they can get better Internet. So with this opportunity that is available in California now, between free first year and online community college, it is only effective if you have sufficient Internet.

>> So thank you for inviting me to represent the native communities. And coming from California as well, typically we are left out of some of this stuff and it's why we are fighting this broadband fight. All the panelists have touched on things that affect the tribes specifically, libraries were our first fora into this. We decided that the libraries were the hub for the community to be able to connect after school resource programs and get the kids on the Internet, and bring this to the community. In growing up this network that we have built at the southern California travel digital village, which is the 19th federally recognized tribes in San Diego county and Riverside County, when we first built this out, we were looking at the speeds weren't very fast and the requirements weren't very large. And as things evolved over the years, we all know that bidirectional video communication is the standard high definition amount of pipeline we need, and we need to do that multiple times over one network and be able to pull this off. We have been looking at opportunities. The reservations were designed to keep Native Americans where they wanted them, sometimes not where they traditionally lived. The deal was that they had to provide resources to those people that they put on those spots. Well, the follow through hasn't been there. The telecos and the big incumbents haven't followed through with their results. I follow people on panels all the time, that are, 98.5 percent of America connected, I'm like yeah, I'm the one and a half over here, the Native Americans, remember us? So we have taken it upon ourselves across the country to try to change this. In the last decade I've been heavily entrenched in policy in D.C. in Sacramento for California's efforts, and have been working to try to identify better pathways to do this. The creativity, working with Nicol and several other panels over the last couple years, we know there is a gap, we know we don't have the connectivity. But connectivity is everything to these communities, 50 percent unemployment, a long ways away from the resources, so we have to have access to online to be able to survive and move into the next even decade, let alone century. Creativity has happened in the Native American space, where we get ahold of something and we get an opportunity to do something, we typically flourish. There are some shining examples of connectivity around the United States on Native American reservations where they have had access. Quarterlane red spectrum is a phenomenal program that is happening. A tribe has put together radio station connectivity to begin their own spin number because there is no providers. Everything that we can do to be able to fast track and open the doors to get the access to the Internet is happening. Travel digital village, we have 106 travel municipalities connected. We have connected upwards of 500 homes, that is attrition there because we are running on solar. So trying to stay up during clouds is tough. So we are actually building out the three and a half version, 3.5 version of our network, where we are putting about $40,000 worth of solar at every single tower and battery backup and generator backup to be able to support no interruptions. In all of the things that are done on the ground and things I've done in policies, in the last administration of the United States Government, I was in and out of the White House with the CTO of the United States, Megan Smith, and we were talking about communications deserts, typically focused on other continents, but I said focus on America. There is 573 Native American tribes that are federally recognized. There is 320 reservations in the lower 48. The FCC promotes that they have 40 percent connectivity, and on the ground I can tell you we do, because we have a network, but I can name off 400 that don't, and so there is no way we are at 40 percent. The creativity came to the point where you had to look at options on where is the missing link? Where is the piece that's gone. You have funding, nobody cares about the tribes, whatever, but where is the piece that is missing in the puzzle. The middle fiber doesn't get on the reservation. If you don't have access, you can't do anything anyway. We have gotten all the carriers in the U.S., overlaid the reservations, we have gotten distance measurements and clearest obvious easement path to the reservation and we are doing a cost analysis on what that would actually cost, billion dollars, what is it going to be, to get middle mile on to each reservation at some key anchor institutions so that the tribes could or the tribes could entertain another company to come on, because that infrastructure cost of the middle mile is why a lot of people won't deploy. There may be enough homes, but getting from ...

 (distorted audio).

Thing that is stopping them from doing it. If we can figure out a way to get the middle mile on to the tribes reservations, if the tribe has the wherewithal they will pull it off themselves. If not, we have brilliant organizations like Amerind Risk Management, we have a representative here. We have different groups that are willing to scale and move out and help other tribes do this. We have a for profit side of our group that will scale and go out and do things. It's that how do we look at something new, because connectivity is everything to the tribes, because they don't have access. As all of the examples were displayed here, especially the online community college which is one of the key ones for Native Americans, there are so many kids ....

 (distorted audio).

Get off the reservation to school, just didn't make it into ... didn't have a parent or ...

 (audio breaking up).

That helps them transition into the application process of college, but this online community college scenario would be phenomenal. It would be the first year online, three or four year school, do whatever you need to do. But these are kinds of things that aren't happening and tribes are trying to make this happen on their own. Hopefully, we will have a report soon this year to be able to pull that off. Thank you.


>> Let's give Judith and Greta a round of applause for putting this together.


All right. So before I, before we break out to round tables, I have this great fortune of summarizing what we heard and seeing if the panelists want to contribute additional insights. I have to tell you, as I'm listening to all of you, that I almost have tears in my eyes because I did this work starting in the community technology movement, I know I look 15 but I'm old, but back in the late, early '90s, mid '90s we were building tech centers in communities throughout the country. Watch this term evolved from digital divide, my dear friend Larry somewhere over here (indecipherable) when I was at one economy we talked about digital inclusion. Then it went to digital equity. Now I heard something that is digital human rights that we are talking about now. We have come a long way, and this case for the digital divide as we know it today from all of your presentations appear to be less binary. It's no longer about does a person have a device, does a person just have the training, does the person just have Internet access, it's actually all of those factors that lend themselves to people's participation in this new Civil Society. The title of my book is called, digital invisibility, because the Internet is creating many of the new underclass of the next underclass that we actually see. Given that, and we have this very robust panel of Government, entrepreneurs, industry, right, who are all trying to solve this, community leaders, I have a question for all of you, and this will demonstrate if you were listening to each other with all of the technical disruptions. What are some of the common themes? Let's put our hands around what you think you heard from your colleagues in terms of where should we be thinking about the top three things that came out of this conversation before we pivot over to the round table.

>> I definitely hear supporting libraries, I think that is like a big, big theme that libraries are one of the most important community spaces. You don't have to pay to be there. They are a public source of Internet. In some counties in Tennessee we only have one. People will drive two hours over the mountain gravel roads to go there and apply for a job at Applebees. It's extremely important. So they are there, we need more of them, they need to be better funded. That is my big take away. Community infrastructure, libraries and especially in schools. We need to be definitely funding digital literacy in our schools and understanding that all students have access to Internet at home.

 (voice in background).

>> Nicol, so what I got out of it is something that I believe has been the same thing I've got out since I was born and this country was created, we have one desire which is to improve the lives of our citizens. We just happen to have new tools to do it with. But there is nothing different about what we are trying to do here or any other conference we go to attend. The idea is to how do we improve the lives of citizens, including your own. There is no other. This is you. For me, what we have done is partnered with the universities, private sector, stakeholders, but most importantly with the community, there is one other theme it's we all care about community. What we have to do now though is allow the community to codevelop, codesign, co invest in this next infrastructure, so that it is built for equity. We don't want to lose the real vision here, which is this is all about improving the lives of our citizens. That means our systems are more fair, our companies are more fair. We are not creating second class digital citizens. Everyone deserves a shot. I heard that amongst everyone in their own way. But it's so important for all of you who are working in your own communities, in your own neighborhood, in your own city, don't forget the fact, like in New York, right, in my community, the same four problems I hear, I heard 20 years ago, and Larry and I were working on this in 1988. So yeah, he was in college and I was in kindergarten. But the four things in New York that you hear is noise, garbage, rats, and crime. Those four are not always the same all the way, what has been missing is getting the community's input to say how do we solve these issues, getting the private sector involved. Government alone can't do it. I think it's a collective.

 (someone speaking off microphone).

>> I think a interesting theme today is that if you think about electricity and how important it is to our society, that is where broadband is headed right now. We are all workarounds at this table. We are not, I mean we are trying to get around the problems of not having broadband, and not having people trained in broadband. I find it interesting that what is the role of Government in this? I think that is a important question for us to consider.

 (someone speaking off microphone).

>> I think there is a big contrast between the last session and this session. That session dealt with more of the macro, you know, economics, long term, big picture. We are down to individuals in here. I think all of us are in this business that we are in, doing what we do, because we want to help change people's lives for the better. I think libraries and I'm sure these other organizations measure their effectiveness by how is a person's life been enriched by their interaction with us. What have we empowered them to do, and it's about individual empowerment. The other observation I want to make is that I think the United States is often in denial about some of the economic problems. So IFLA spearheaded a effort to get access to information as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which every country in the world has signed on to achieve by 2030, the 2030 agenda. We hardly ever hear about these goals in the United States, and yet every single problem that we are talking about in this room, education, health, access to information, about helping farmers, etcetera, all of this is part of what the UN is trying to help us all achieve by 2030. If you are interested in more of this and how technology and access to technology affects all of this, I recommend this development and access to information 2017 report. It's on the IFLA Web site, We all need data to persuade decision makers. There is a lot of data in this report that I think you will find helpful.

 (someone speaking off microphone).

>> I want to make a comment about last panel, this panel and the future of how things are working. Innovation is key to keep things moving forward. Growth, all that kind of stuff is essential to advance. I understand that. It's great we focus on that. The problem, however, is and it's worldwide, is that we are always looking at the next shiny object, 5G rollout is coming, we don't have 4G yet on the reservations, so what the hell. So you know, if you are going to go do this kind of stuff, innovative stuff, that is great. But you need to think cyclical and turn back around and look who is not on board and how did this new technology support the community that is maybe not even connected yet. Can we leapfrog to the new technology and be connected on that, instead of going through the iterations of connectivity, to get to 5G or whatever the next phase of the networking is. If you look at the technology that's being developed, it isn't taking into account these communities. It is for the mainstream, the masses, the population densities, and it is not focused on supporting the rest of the world that isn't connected or barely connected.

>> I would also like to add quickly, I really appreciated how not paternalistic the tone was on this panel. So instead of saying, we need digital equity because I really want you to pursue this thing, and I want this future for you, this panel seemed to really be about digital equity is important because people should be able to create the future that they want.

>> NICOL TURNER-LEE: Now I have this task, oh, I see Evan, raise your hand from the Commissioner's office. You put out a great telehealth initiative. You want to stand up and say what you are doing too? Not to put you on the spot. Microphone, okay. Tell us what you are doing?

>> You want me to summarize the initiative. I'm a policy advisor to FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, next week we will be voting on beginning the process of establishing a 100 million dollar telehealth pilot program, the idea is to target telehealth for low income Americans, in particular rural areas and veterans. We are looking at, asking questions in the item that's wonderful administrative law procedure, we ask questions, we hope you all provide feedback. We are looking at funding broadband connections for telehealth purposes, potentially equipment, other things like that. The inspiration for this was my boss went to Mississippi with Senator Wicker from Mississippi, University of Mississippi medical center has a, did a pilot program for diabetes, and the United States spends a ton of money on chronic illness management and in rural areas you have to travel to a hundred miles to a hospital every time you want to see the doctors that is not ideal. They found amazing cost savings in the program, improved outcomes. We are trying to see if the FCC can support similar projects across the country. I welcome you all to weigh in on that. But I think it gets to the heart of a lot of what we heard from the panel today in terms of the doctor divide, which we are hearing more about especially in rural areas. So thanks.

>> NICOL TURNER-LEE: Thanks, Evan, I've been watching that. Telehealth was never a use case, when it came to the digital divide. Now I have this task of doing something that I don't often do, but I'm going to try it out anyway, which is to get you all engaged in some way. We talked about it and I'm going to try my hardest to make sure this implements, it's executed the way we have talked about it, but the goal is to get each of you at a round table to take some of the themes that we discussed, and what we would like to do, so this does not become a common digital divide, digital equity conversation where we lead, knowing the things we have to do but no action plan, is to get you all in your tables to prioritize what you think might be one to two interventions or recommendations or proposals that can move the needle in this area. We have actually, I wrote down some themes that I've identified from the group that I want to target for each of the tables. One area is on community infrastructure, which could also include the technical infrastructure. I'd like to assign, and I'm going to, I'll put your group on this, to have a discussion on community technical infrastructure, and what will be required of, what could be one to two or one to three recommendations that could actually be useful to move the needle on this conversation. I'm going to give this group over here, how to improve public private sector partnerships. Obviously in this discussion, what Comcast is doing, what libraries are doing, what Government is doing, this is cross pollination of public sector, public private sector partnerships. What might be some one to three recommendations that we might focus on to move the needle in that area, what are we learning from the lessons that are out there which you heard from Diana, what we need to do to foster relationships. This group here, is there a particular place for Government. Should they be proactive. I love what Ann said in terms of normally Government is paternalistic. When we assign, or it has been start stop. Programs come and go but let's talk about, we want to eviscerate the digital divide, what would be the role of Government in doing that. That would be this table. The table behind them, where I see, is that Jane, is that you? I'm going to ask you all to talk about how do we engage other actors on the funding side. There is Government funding, but are there other creative solutions that we should be look even at or we should be looking to, to help us supplement that. The challenge you are hearing up here is everybody is involved in a programmatic pursuit, but whether or not that actually has a funding which is the purpose of this conversation which is still for question. Larry's group, I'm going to give you a very interesting question, which I think relates to the panel's conversation around values. Given that the economy is changing, what might be, and I brought this up on a call, we should be pushing ourselves not to talk about digital equity the next two to three years. What should be some of those human rights values that we should be focusing on that will allow us to do so? The group that is right next to them, to the right, everybody is following your group, right? Because I'm not (chuckles). Public private sector partnership, role of Government, other funding, the values, technical infrastructure, the group behind we have talked about libraries as part of the community infrastructure. So I want your group to talk about technical, wireless connectivity, what technical, satellite, what should we focus on. The group behind, community infrastructure. Should we be looking at community infrastructure, libraries, are there other groups that we should be going to, to sort of help us build, I think what we have heard a lot about libraries being a critical point, are there other groups we should be paying attention to. The table where you are sitting I'm going to have you look at use cases. Evan pointed out telehealth as a particular use case. Are there top three use cases that we should be putting our time in to actually focus on closing or creating more digital equity. We have heard a little like Kate talked about let's move this beyond just a simplistic conversation. Maybe we should be looking at closing digital divide to create more economic opportunities and social mobility. That is a different conversation than we would have had a few years ago. In your conversation, I'd like you to consider in those use cases will there be digital literacy required for the use case to manifest themselves. Because telehealth, you have to cause people to do things differently, when it comes to telehealth. Okay? For this table, I'll give you some work, I'll give you you are taking notes but I'll give you the big challenge and I'll come join you. Should we be talking about, how will the digital divide look like in the age of artificial intelligence, privacy, and all new emerging technologies? What will we be talking about in the next five years when it comes to digital equity. Okay? Everybody have their assignments? Okay. Oh, so here is the instruction. You have 15 minutes, just 15 minutes, I'll give you five minute countdown. I just need three bullets, because there is a lot of tables up in here, for summary, and then our panelists will take it all in and do a final response. All right. Time starts now. You all can join ...

 (off microphone).

Public private sector partnership. If you can, we only have 15 minutes. Technical infrastructure, deployment. Use cases. Community infrastructure, institutions, etcetera. Back there, values, principles. Right here, community infrastructure. Funding outside of Government. Other lucrative funding sources. The role of Government. How will the digital divide look like with AI, emerging technologies.

 (pause for round table). 

>> You have about four minutes.

>> NICOL TURNER-LEE: I'm going to ask people to start winding down. Please make sure you have a reporter, that is going to do your three bullets. You have 30 seconds to get that last piece in there. Ten seconds! 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! I knew that would get your attention, Ha Ha. (chuckles). Don't give me a mic, I like karaoke. All right. I'm going to ask everybody to wind down. This is the first group I have, I have a 11 year old and 6 year old, when I need them to be quiet, I go if you hear me clap once, if you hear me clap twice, and I've done that with adults and they are like this is such a familiar trigger (chuckles). What we want to do, because we are still, with time, we want to be mindful of the remainder of the conference, we are going to have each reporter report out in less than three minutes the three bullets that you came up with. Clearly, I'm sure that you have commentary, I'm going to leave it to Judith to keep the channels open, if you want to contribute more commentary to your particular area. But again, if I can ask you all to be mindful as we go around, just to give your three bullets. At the end of every table's presentation, I'm going to have the panelists be the shark tank and come back up, summarize what they have heard, based on their own presentations and their own work that they are doing, and as I said Judith is going to be taking notes. This will be documented. We are going to follow the Chatham house rules and aggregating information. We are not going to be assigning comments to particular people. Judith, is that right? It is not necessary for you to say your name and contact for your table. We have two mics going. Why don't we start with the role of the Government.

>> Is this on? For the role of Government, we talked about three main bullet points. The first is that it's the role of Government to determine the correct taxation policy, when encouraging broadband deployment. Hi, everyone. Our table didn't necessarily determine what that taxation policy should be, because that is the role of the Government to do in each specific instance. The second is creating policies that encourage infrastructure and, infrastructure deployment and equity, some examples are things like one touch make ready, dig once. The third is specifically on the state and federal range creating legislation, making sure legislation on the table for both studies and industry to create meaningful public private partnership. Anything else?

>> We talked about how in order to push for public private sector partnerships, we need to have a inclusive strategy, so that all voices will be at the table, so we can get the best outcome. Some of the questions we explored were how to ease communication between providers' groups. We talked about how experts in the field need to hear from the people, the consumers that they are serving. But they don't necessarily know how to speak the same lexicon, get what they need from them. We talked about that. And removing the middleman at the table so when everybody is at the table there is no conduit speaking for each other and creating misinformation. Then we talked about how important it is to codesign and cobuild from the beginning of the process.

 (someone speaking off microphone).

>> Hi, our table had a interesting discussion on community infrastructure and technology. We started with being about people, you can't do it unless you know what people want. Even though we are the technical group we did start with the human side. We talked a lot about infrastructure policy, and conceptualizing what makes sense, whether it's spectrum or shared infrastructure. But we have to have a cohesive policy framework in order to best utilize the technology that makes sense for the different situations in different communities. On the actual piece of technology and infrastructure, we talked about different solutions for different places, like 5G in city but may be not appropriate for a rural area, but that maybe that makes sense on fixed wireless or fiber in the middle and wireless at the last mile. I think the heart of it came down to people and policy around whether or not the technology made sense for that location.

 (someone speaking off microphone).

>> Hello, I'm Jane from the Internet society. What we talked about, much of what was said about people, there is three main bullets that we came up with for the funding. One, priorities, know the priorities of your target as their priorities may not sync with your infrastructure development priorities per se. Some industries don't get that they need connectivity to make something happen. Messaging, explain the problem well using social media, video stories, information data which comes from my data hounds, my colleague, if you can't tell the story and explain why you need that connectivity, your message is not going to get through. Find workarounds, not describe the problem that tribal communities have but can't put land or houses up for collateral, give them spectrum, they can use that as collateral. The spectrum issue is a problem around the world. There are a lot of different sources but it comes back to people and a lot of DIY.

>> We came up with three use cases, Net Flix, Hulu and Amazon (chuckles). Just kidding! The opposite of that, no, so we talked about especially rural America has been a big theme of this whole discussion. We talked about use cases particularly in those areas, healthcare, already mentioned, remote patient monitoring, bridging the doctor divide, being able to access specialists across the entire country and world instead of just maybe where you live, if there are none or maybe one. Agriculture is a big one, one example is if you sell a product and without broadband your access to customers is very limited to wherever you are, whereas if you have a broadband connection and your customers have broadband connection, you can have potentially thousands of customers if not more, whether it's cattle or crops or whatever you are selling. Also of course, the smart ag applications like IoT, drones, monitoring crops, things like that. Then education is a huge one. We talked a lot about upscaling and job training through education online as opposed to just relying on the four year degree as a shortcut for whether someone is trained for a job. You are able to use broadband to get the specific skills you need for a job, and then the potential employer can make sure that you have those skills using broadband, so training for specific jobs instead of winging it. To summarize, healthcare, education and agriculture as use cases.

>> We came up with three things, we were focusing on our existing community infrastructure. We wanted the cities and local governments to make public spaces more inclusive, with new hours and digital literacy programs, for examples libraries shut down at around the time people need to do homework and get online. And we thought we should leverage already existing city resources, like libraries, public spaces, courthouse, those are already paid for, in particular bandwidth costs for those places are paid for, particularly after they are closed for the day. That stuff is open. Then we decided that because of these two things, we should work with local city and state governments to supply funding and political will.

 (someone speaking off microphone).

>> Hi, Nicholas. Three bullets, as she said. One is culture first, so if we are trying to push this value, these proposals that we have been exploring in the panel, we need to put the local cultures first, like it will be first nation cultures but also the urban particulars of each community, taking us through a space where everything is more homogeneous, everything is a mono culture and we are losing the diversity, losing the interesting little bits of each community so culture needs to be first. Then there is the matter of choice. One thing that also happens, less in urban areas but much more in rural areas, is both being able to have the chance to be connected, but also being able to opt to be connected or not, and how, in what way and how much. This also is a problem in urban places where we can't choose to be connected or not. In rural or first nation areas it's very important because first nation communities that have not been exposed to this, the globalized world through Internet, once they get there, they start losing a lot of cultural elements like language or like traditions. The other thing that needs to be tackled is their values, local first, understanding that communities like Internet starts from the leaves, not from the cloud let's say, right. So it's the first mile first. And that means we need to think solutions that are, we need to evolve solutions that are peer to peer based, distributed, the centralized, not in a centralized way like for computing but having servers locally or training in this area.

 (someone speaking off microphone).

>> Our blue marble view says, we have three points, the current issue that are surrounding the digital divide will be impacted even more by such emerging technologies as AI, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and something that people may or may not be familiar with, we heard conversation about agriculture, well, Aero farms which are now combining powerful Internet of Things with their architecture and horticulture to actually grow crops indoors, what is the impact of that. The second item we have is the widening social and economic inequality, which is really causing more competition, and we feel an escalated competition among groups who have and are behind, groups who are moving towards this new economy and actually this new ecosystem of living. The third item which the group mentioned on values, we also said we have got cultural and values that whole perspective is going to change, so what we said is going to be disrupted, it's going to be reshaped. The question is a open ended question, to what.

>> NICOL TURNER-LEE: Since you ran up here, I feel bad a lot of people are leaving, you want to comment on that (indecipherable).

>> On the concept of AI, I learned a very interesting thing from an individual that spoke to the National Congress of American Indians and brought in the technology understanding that if these communities, Native Americans, the broad community, the Mexican community, all the Hispanic different groups, if we are not involved with programming the AI, the AI will eliminate us in the future.

>> NICOL TURNER-LEE: I'll add to that, even when we are not the product, we are the product, because that is where companies do not come. So you don't get Uber, Airbnb, because you are outside of the digital ecology. If you do not have the collateral to participate, not just the technology but a bank account, you are further experience inequality. You don't have transportation, guess what, you will never have transportation. You will grow less healthy and wealthy and educated because of that. All right. I was going to ask our panelists to respond, if there is a panelist who was speaking earlier, I can kind of pick one out because Clayton is the closest to wrap up.

>> I'm concise. (chuckles). Thanks to Nicol. How about that, give it up for Nicol. She is something else.


At the end of the day, we are all responsible. This isn't like some engineers sitting in some corner that we got to wait on to make things happen. Everyone here is responsible. It's refreshing to hear what is going on, on our tribal lands. I had a conversation with Goldman Sachs who is interested in investing in middle mile infrastructure. So we will be talking. I think under Nicol's direction of this whole, this particular session, that we are all tied together around this one thing. I think about the infrastructure in the United States, there were times when there were mostly just all dirt roads, right? And some people got paved roads and some people didn't have. Those who had them got more access, a little more opportunity, got a little ahead. Eventually, it came where more streets have gotten built and paved and you all can navigate. I look at that with broadband. There will come a moment where we all will have equal broadband but it takes voices like this to make that happen, sooner than later. I hope that we can stick to the same sort of discipline we have had right here, which is to work together to solve the big problems, and they will be solved, but they will be solved a lot quicker if we work together in an inclusive manner. We need everybody at the table, as this table talked about, my friend who's written three books, produced two movies, speaks five languages, PhD, she is a hundred percent blind. She was looking at me like he is describing me.


The point is that if we do something for the least of us, it will impact and help the rest of us.

>> NICOL TURNER-LEE: Thanks, Clayton.


So I want to say thank you to the facilitators of the session. We would not be here without Greta. Raise your hand, and Judith. Thanks to all the panelists. Let's give them another round of applause for their presentation. They were all up there. Follow each of the panelists on Twitter. Hopefully we can come back like they said, in my community, y'all come back now, ya hear, let's come back a year later and have the conversation again, okay? Thank you very much.

This text, document, or file is based on live transcription.  Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.