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Digital Inclusion Week: Connecting the Dots

(May 4, 2018) - As we approach National Digital Inclusion week the challenge of connecting all individuals to the internet was on my mind.  While recently at a restaurant at the next table was a family of four. The two children, ages four and six, were on their iPads and both parents were on their iPhones.

It occurred to me this is what most families where I live look like, completely included in our digital universe—having access to information and resources to improve their lives at their fingertips. Of course, sometimes it’s important to disconnect, but many families don’t even have the choice to access the same opportunities many enjoy daily.

I was raised on a large ranch in California, near the Monterey peninsula and you would think when words like California and Monterey are used broadband was a given. Ironically, today if I lived on our ranch I would not have a broadband connection. Also, most technology conversations these days use terms like a AI, or Augmented Reality, or block chain, or social media, but few discuss digital inclusion.

As Steve Jobs would say “it’s critical that we connect the dots” and in this case those dots are between the “Haves” and the “Have Nots”. Anytime there is a gap or divide it is a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs.

I believe the major technical challenge of providing broadband for the Have Nots will eventually be solved by carriers (AT&T, Verizon) and manufacturers (Facebook, Apple, Google). However, at the community level there will be opportunities for local solutions.

Here’s where the problem solvers or entrepreneurs come in.

First, there needs to be efforts to repurpose technical products. I notice disposal and recycling sites in grocery store parking lots to get rid of your old computer product. There should be sites, or businesses, established to refurbish computers, phones, notebooks, or any products for use in connecting to the internet. Most products up to 6-7 years old are very adequate for digital connections. I believe crowd funding would be a great way to raise startup capital for this type of business.

Secondly, as the technical or product problem is being solved, people need to learn how to use digital technology to enhance their lives. Training programs at all levels will be essential for the Have Nots to catch up and use digital products. As part of training, besides using desk top products, mobility is the new art of using digital technology.  Most interactivity today is from handheld devices, and there is a real productivity advantage in mastering mobility. We take for it granted the ability to simply use GPS to find our next location.  Local programs need to be developed for training from private organizations, corporations, non-profits, local schools, and community programs. By the way, age is not a factor, these programs should include people from the very young to the very old.

Lastly, Technical services will also be a major player in refurbishing older products, maintaining products, and supporting people learning new skills; even service needs to be mobile and portable.

So, come on entrepreneurs let's get busy connecting the dots and building the support businesses for the “Have Nots”.

Jay Elliot Headroom 200x300About the Author: Jay Elliot is a member of Connected Nation’s Board of Directors and the Founder and CEO of iMedGo. Previously, he was the CEO and Founder of Nuvel, Inc. an internet acceleration software company. He also is the author of the worldwide best-selling book, The Steve Jobs Way. Prior to Nuvel, he was the Founder and Chairman of Migo Software, Inc., a mobility software company. Mr. Elliot has more than 30 years' operations experience with such corporate giants as IBM, Intel and Apple Computer.

He served as the Senior Vice President of Apple Computer, responsible for all corporate operations plus overall corporate business planning, reporting directly to Steve Jobs, Chairman of the Board, CEO, and co-founder of Apple. Mr. Elliot met Steve Jobs in a restaurant in Los Gatos, a small town in California. Steve was impressed with his entrepreneurial insight into computers and was hired 4 weeks later. His first day at Apple was a Saturday, and he accompanied Steve to Xerox Park to view the Star System.

Steve and Mr. Elliot hit it off immediately and as a member of the Macintosh Development team, he oversaw the software development of Macintosh. During his tenure at Apple, sales grew from $150 million to more than $3 billion.

After graduating from college, Mr. Elliot joined IBM as a programmer working on the airline reservation system and moved into management in several key projects in the disk drive development business, development of the ATM system, and the Fair Transaction System and eventually managed the company’s 16,000-employee software division as the Director of the IBM Santa Teresa Software Laboratory. In 1980, he called Andy Grove and joined Intel as Site Director of the California operations. He also worked with Gordon Moore, chairman of Intel, in the creation of the Intel Foundation.

In addition to his vast technology background, Mr. Elliot has extensive experience in both the entertainment and healthcare industries. While at Apple, he created Apple TV and an internal employee TV communication system. He served as the chief executive officer of San Francisco Studios, where he produced the Academy Award nominated documentary, “Berkeley in the Sixties,” and the NBC television series, “Midnight Caller.”

In the healthcare industry, Mr. Elliot was the chief executive officer of New Health Systems, a network technology group connecting physicians and payers to patients and affiliated hospitals. As part of the New Health plan, Mr. Elliot spent one year with the UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Computer Science Department helping to develop a software system for the operation of tele-medical centers.

Mr. Elliot holds a B.S. in Mathematics from San Jose State University and a B.A. degree in Business from the University of California at Berkeley, California. He also was the author of "The Steve Jobs Way."