Louisville, Ky. (July 27, 2018) – One University of Virginia professor has taken his research on the road. Christopher Ali, an assistant professor in the Department of Media Studies, is talking with those impacted by the lack of broadband access and to those groups working toward its expansion.
“I’m really interested in the impact on precision farming,” Ali said during a stop in Louisville, Kentucky. “I’m also interested in how co-ops are working to fill this space and do some of the kind of work we saw when the country was trying to connect all homes with electricity.”
Prof. Ali accompanied by his hound dog, Tuna, is traveling through half a dozen states. The professor sat down with Tom Ferree, Chairman & CEO of Connected Nation (CN), and Ashley Hitt, CN’s Director of GIS Services, on July 17.
They discussed what the nonprofit is doing to close the Digital Divide as well as what policymakers at the state and federal levels are doing to help those most directly impacted by the lack of access.
“What we’re now seeing is many states deciding to take matters into their own hands even as they keep a close eye on what federal lawmakers are doing,” said Ferree. “We’re working in several states already, including Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, to help lawmakers identify where the Digital Divide truly is before they begin spending on infrastructure. We then help them develop real-world solutions using innovative ideas and bi-partisan policymaking.”
“One of the challenges is how the Federal Communications Commission is currently mapping internet coverage,” said Hitt. “They’re using census blocks for fixed broadband. If one household has service, the entire block is marked as covered. That can mean those areas only partially or even minimally served no longer qualify for federal funds to help connect them. It’s why all of us at Connected Nation believe more granular data is needed so we can identify where the Digital Divide is and opportunities for closing it.”
Ali’s tour started in Morehead, Kentucky and winds across the Midwest. For more on his trip, head to his twitter page at @Ali_Christopher. To learn more about Connected Nation head to connectednation.org.
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