Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
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With Digital Inclusion Week (DIW) less than a month away, ILSR and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) are gearing up for the next Building for Digital Equity (#B4DE) event and encouraging digital equity practitioners to save the date.
The popular virtual gathering will be held Oct. 3 from 12 noon to 1:15 pm ET and will focus on the DIW-inspired theme: “Building Connected Communities: Sustaining Momentum.” The event is free and open for registration here.
Building on the success of our previous events, we are excited to present a fun and informative agenda that will cover:
- On-going efforts to save the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and lessons-learned on boosting ACP enrollment
- Outreach to covered populations
- The power of ethical storytelling in digital inclusion work
- How telehealth can be a key driver of broadband adoption
- The nexus between infrastructure and digital equity
The keynote speaker for the event will be Joshua Edmonds, CEO of Digital C, the Cleveland-based nonprofit technology social enterprise. Edmonds will focus on the link between building appropriately-motivated physical networks and how infrastructure and digital equity work go hand-in-hand.
Join us Tuesday, August 8th at 2pm ET for the latest episode of the Connect This! Show. Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by regular guests Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting) and Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and special guest Robert Wack (Carroll County, Maryland Health Department) to talk about all the recent broadband news that's fit to print, including progress on the Westminster Fiber Network and what's looking like Anna Gomez's speedy confirmation to the FCC.
Email us at email@example.com with feedback and ideas for the show.
Increased Wellness and Economic Return of Universal Broadband Infrastructure: A Telehealth Case Study of Ten Southern Rural Counties
In a new report, published in partnership with the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI), the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) Community Broadband Networks Initiative examines the link between high-speed Internet infrastructure, access to healthcare, and the economic implications involved.
The report –“Increased Wellness and Economic Return of Universal Broadband Infrastructure: A Telehealth Case Study of Ten Southern Rural Counties” has particular relevance for those living in rural broadband deserts as it details how universal, affordable, broadband infrastructure would return $43 million per year using telehealth across 10 counties in the Black Belt of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Read Increased Wellness and Economic Return of Universal Broadband Infrastructure: A Telehealth Case Study of Ten Southern Rural Counties [pdf].
It explains how robust broadband infrastructure could pay for itself in short order and open up untold access to healthcare, educational opportunities, economic development, community engagement, and other benefits along the way. This issue is particularly relevant today, because the BEAD program represents a once-in-a-generation investment in broadband infrastructure, larger than any other federal grant program many times over. While it will solve the issue of access to infrastructure for most rural households, we have significant concerns about affordability - BEAD will lead to new connections, but states have wide latitude as to which ISPs get those funds to build new connections. The national monopolies have a long history of charging more to exactly the communities that can’t pay as much, leaving many households out. The report argues that electric cooperatives offer better and more locally accountable paths to universal, affordable service.
Drawing on academic scholarship and existing telehealth programs at hospitals around the country, the report focuses on an assortment of chronic health ailments plaguing those counties, such as diabetes, chronic respiratory disease (including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, heart disease, heart failure, cancer, obesity, and mental health and then demonstrates the benefits that could come from effective telehealth interventions for each
New Report: Universal Broadband Infrastructure Would Return $43 million Annually to Counties Across Rural Black Belt
In partnership with the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI), today ILSR is releasing a new report that examines the link between high-speed Internet infrastructure, access to healthcare, and the economic implications involved.
The report – “Increased Wellness and Economic Return of Universal Broadband Infrastructure: A Telehealth Case Study of Ten Southern Rural Counties” – has particular relevance for those living in rural broadband deserts as it details how universal, affordable, broadband infrastructure would return $43 million per year using telehealth across 10 counties in the Black Belt of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.
At a virtual press briefing today, SRBWI leaders and organizers were joined by Dr. Sandra B. Reed of Emory Healthcare; as well as ILSR Senior Researcher and the report’s lead author, Ry Marcattilio, to explain how robust broadband infrastructure could pay for itself in short order and open up untold access to healthcare, educational opportunities, economic development, community engagement, and other benefits along the way.
“It’s easy to miss the connection, but hard to overlook what’s at stake as rural hospitals close and the cost of transportation to get to far-off healthcare facilities presents a real barrier. This is about access to healthcare and Black women being denied the opportunity to take advantage of telehealth. The broadband infrastructure that’s needed for that just isn’t there,” said Shirley Sherrod, SRBWI State Lead for Georgia and Director of the Southwest Georgia Project in Albany Georgia.
Broadband … to Access Longer, Healthier Lives
This year's Mountain Connect conference begins Monday, May 23rd and runs through Wednesday, May 25 in Keystone, Colorado. The conference's self-stated goal is to "move our western US communities forward by providing relevant and targeted content to help them make the most effective decisions as they build new or expand existing telecommunications infrastructure that enable the long-term vision of a community."
It will feature panels on navigating state and federal funding, telehealth, disaster resilience, digital inclusion, tribal connectivity, construction challenges, and communications and technology standards.
We'll also get to hear an array of conversations with local leaders, talking about everything from revitalizing downtowns with new municipal broadband infrastructure, to partnerships, to open access, to marketing, to managing subscriber expectations. See the full agenda here.
Anchoring the panels will be communities like Boulder, Colorado, Loveland, Colorado, and Detroit, Michigan, with familiar faces and industry veterans helping to break things down in clear ways, including Peggy Schaffer (ConnectME), Joshua Edmonds (Director of Digital Inclusion, Detroit), Brian Snider (Lit Communities), Bruce Patterson (EntryPoint Networks), and Gary Bolton (Fiber Broadband Association).
ILSR's DeAnne Cuellar will be participating on a digital inclusion panel moderated by NDIA's Paolo Balboa with Colorado Department of Labor's Katherine Keegan. Likewise, Christopher Mitchell will moderate a panel with Peggy Schaffer, Eric Forsch (Idaho Commerce) and Veneeth Iyengar (ConnectLA) to talk about how states will use the BEAD money. See the full slate of speakers here.
A recently announced $610,000 grant award from the Tennessee Valley Authority to a partnership in Chattanooga, Tennessee will fund a pilot project to fund a set of holistic interventions in the Orchard Knob neighborhood to create healthier, more cost-efficient, better-connected homes for 1,000 residents.
The initiative, driven by a coalition made up of the Enterprise Center, EPB Fiber, Parkridge Health System, Habitat for Humanity, Tech Goes Home, and the Orchard Knob Neighborhood Association, aims to tackling an array of social determinants of health all at once. From The Chattanoogan:
Together, the partners plan to simultaneously invest in infrastructure and test new strategies for improving social determinants of health and quality of life of residents within a historically underserved neighborhood. Ultimately, the program in Orchard Knob will serve as a model for other communities across the Tennessee Valley.
It's happening as a result of funds contributed by the TVA's Connected Communities initiative, which aims to help "communities within the Valley leverage tech- and data-driven solutions to improve residents’ lives, deliver environmental benefits and scale economic opportunities." So far, these include projects like outfitting the Cheatham County School District with a solar array and battery backup, technology upgrades at more than a dozen Knoxville Recreation Centers, and improved connectivity at public housing sites in Murfreesboro.
Study: Lack of Internet Access Leads to Increased Covid-19 Mortality Rates in Rural, Suburban, and Urban Communities
Two decades into the twenty-first century, it still feels a little strange to justify all of the obvious ways that Internet access serves as a key pillar among the social determinants of health (SDOH) that govern our individual and collective wellbeing. The concept itself is at least two hundred years old: a German pathologist named Rudolph Virchow is often quoted as saying in the late 1840s, in response to the privation he saw in the run-up to the 1848 revolutions, that “medicine is a social science and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale.”
Our modern framing of the problem comes in large part from the World Health Organization, which in the preamble to its 1946 constitution wrote that “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In 2020, the FCC has called broadband access a “super social determinant of health” in 2020, precisely because it serves as a gateway to all of the other elements of life that foster healthiness and wellbeing, from access to education, information, better food, economic opportunity, and socialization.
But a recent study published to the JAMA Open Network makes the connection even more explicit. In it, a team of researchers at The Center for Spatial Data Science at the University of Chicago show that a lack of Internet access has been strongly correlated with higher Covid-19 mortality rates across every type of household and in rural, suburban, and urban areas alike.
Internet Access Most Strongly Correlated with Covid-19 Mortality Rates
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by ILSR Community Broadband Networks Research Team Lead Ry Marcattilio-McCracken and Communications Team Lead Sean Gonsalves. During the conversation, the three discuss stories from the big list of American Rescue Plan Community Broadband Projects, Sean’s Broadband Breakfast Telehealth Op-Ed with Craig Settles, and why healthcare providers aren’t advocating for universal healthcare. They also get into ILSR Researcher Christine Parker’s recent piece breaking down Broadband Now’s Broadband Pricing Changes report. Christopher ends the show by ranting about inaction by cities to address the digital divide, with Sean and Ry weighing in.
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Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
Today we launch the Digital Health Story Collection, an opportunity for health care providers and health care users to share experiences with or difficulties accessing telehealth care across the country. Share your story and help us tell policymakers why having access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet service is critical for health and well-being.
As we enter 2022 amid a new wave of Covid-19 infections, we are reminded of the critical necessity for all people to have fast, affordable, and reliable Internet service. Such service makes it possible to work and learn remotely, stay connected with friends and family, access vital public health information, and find employment or housing - all critical for maintaining our physical and mental health. Internet access has also enabled many people to access healthcare remotely through telehealth services, ensuring continuity of care while limiting in-person contact and reducing exposure to the coronavirus.
The pandemic triggered a massive expansion of telehealth, but it’s not available to everyone equally. This is partly because not everyone has broadband Internet access. But it’s also because not everyone has the devices, skills, or level of comfort they need to take advantage of Internet access, even if they have it.
Throughout the pandemic, the Insure the Uninsured Project (ITUP), a California-based nonprofit health policy institute, heard from community health care organizations across the state about a persistent problem: the digital divide was, and is, a major barrier to accessing telehealth services.
To help tackle that challenge, ITUP, in collaboration with Connect Humanity and the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) Community Broadband Networks Initiative, is offering concerned Californians nuggets of wisdom on how to bridge that divide during a virtual policy forum next month.
The single-day two-hour forum – “Partnering for Success: Leveraging Telehealth as a Use Case for Community Broadband and Connectivity” – will explore ways California communities can partner with philanthropists to enhance high-speed Internet connectivity and telehealth services in the Golden State.
The forum will be held on November 17 from 9am to 11am PST and will feature a variety of policy experts and community broadband advocates, including our own Christopher Mitchell who will give the opening presentation.
That will be followed by an expert panel who will share what is being done elsewhere and how better broadband access can help augment health and telehealth services. The final part of the forum will cover a pilot project and potential partnerships to improve connectivity, health care delivery, and health care costs.