Colin Wood

FCC’s spectrum-auction lapse stalls next-generation 911 funding

The Federal Communications Commission’s recent lapse in authority to auction off wireless spectrum has members of the House of Representatives concerned about the US's ability to stay competitive in a global wireless market. It has others concerned that the upgrade to next-generation 911 just lost its primary funding source. The Senate recently declined to vote on the House’s Spectrum Innovation Act, a bill that would have funneled spectrum fees into numerous initiatives, including $10 billion for upgrading aging 911 systems.

Maryland to buy laptops for 150,000 households

Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD) said the state’s Office of Statewide Broadband will spend up to $30 million on laptops for about 150,000 households. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, which contains the broadband office, plans to partner with local governments and community groups to distribute the devices to “underserved” households, according to Gov. Hogan.

Next-generation 911 gets $10 billion in spectrum bill

Congress advanced an amendment that would provide billions in funding for next-generation 911, moving one step closer to possibly fulfilling a longstanding wish of the public safety community. The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s communications and technology panel voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the Spectrum Innovation Act (H.R. 7624) that would use funding from wireless spectrum auctions to raise $10 billion for next-generation 911, a suite of IP-based technologies that enables 911 call centers to use location data, photos and video.

California releases draft maps, plan for statewide broadband network

The California Department of Technology released documents showing its recommended design for the $3.25 billion statewide broadband network Gov Gavin Newsom (D-CA) approved in summer 2021.

Tribal wireless boot camp builds community for broadband

Several nonprofit groups held a “wireless boot camp” for Tribal nations from Northern California, the first in what organizers said will be a series of training sessions for Native American communities seeking to improve their connectivity where commercial internet service providers haven’t. Members of the Yurok Tribe, Hoopa Valley Tribe and Bear River Band met with experts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), the Internet Society and the University of Washington. The gathering, attended by about 20 people, was a chance for tribes that received 

Illinois forms council to get seniors and low-income residents online

Gov Bruce Rauner (R-IL) signed into law a bill designed to increase broadband access for the state's growing, but less-connected older population. The bill establishes a 21-member Broadband Advisory Council tasked with figuring out why more seniors aren't using the internet, creating digital literacy programs to overcome those barriers and exploring new technologies to increase broadband connectivity for residents 65 years and older. Among the council members is the secretary of innovation and technology, a spot currently filled by state Chief Information Officer Kirk Lonbom.

What President Obama Did for Tech

Change in government is slow. That didn’t stop a lot from happening in government during President Barack Obama’s two terms, including many technology firsts, but that’s to be expected, because the world changed a lot too. Chronicling President Obama’s tech legacy isn’t a matter of tallying everything he did, but isolating what he did differently from what another person in his position might have.

It was the impression left on the federal government’s culture that this president will be remembered for, said Jennifer Pahlka, Code for America’s executive director. “Ten years from now, I think the biggest impact...will be on leadership in government and how they think, more than anything else,” said Pahlka. “One thing that could have absolutely gone differently was the way in which he called on people from the outside to rescue The fact that he so much stood behind that and was willing to back these outsiders, that I think was a turning point, and the fact that he learned the right lesson from it and decided to institutionalize it.” The president led on open data, cybersecurity and the creation of new government roles, but his greatest legacy lies in his constancy, said former Philadelphia Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid. Backing programs he believed in and serving as a template that others could model themselves after, President Obama lived up to his charge as a spiritual leader.

How Digital is Your State?

Just as a school teacher roots for his students, the Center for Digital Government is hopeful every two years that each respondent to its Digital States Survey will astound with reports of their technological feats. Though a competition of sorts, the Digital States Survey is more a showcase of state government's collective technology portfolio. And the outlook suggested by the 2016 survey is as strong as one would expect given the financial growth of the gov tech sector and the public's increasing interest in civic participation.

No states received a D or F, and just eight states landed in the C grade range. A growing number of states fill out the top of the curve compared to surveys past — 20 states earned a grade of B+ or higher, and a whopping 10 states earned an A or A-. States with a solid A grade are Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Utah and Virginia. Common trends among the A students were a strong focus on cybersecurity, shared services, cloud computing, IT staffing, budgeting and use of data.

Can Open Data Find a Business Model?

It’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t heard of open data by now, and yet the state and local governments working to expose their data are vastly outnumbered by those that are waiting for a solid business case to support the idea before they try it.

Open data, by its nature, does not guarantee specific cost savings, service improvements or more efficiency. The uncertainty that wards off so many is the same trait that makes open data alluring to those who were willing to make the leap of faith.

Three open data advocates in Pasadena and Riverside (CA) and in Chicago shared what it takes to get started on open data, why it’s worth it, and the arguments they use when faced with opposition.

Can Cities Wait Until 2084 for Google Fiber?

Technology is becoming the new religion, and the dogma is just as impenetrable. Issues of personal privacy, social equality, and economic policy are each day bound tighter to outcomes in the digital world.

As technology becomes a progressively more integral part of daily life, the stakes are raised in equal measure.

The broadband market is changing quickly, and America’s emotional investment in tomorrow’s winners and losers grows ever more entrenched. Google is disrupting the increasingly concentrated broadband market with Fiber, a brand of gigabit networks being built in Kansas City; Austin, Texas; and Provo, Utah.

Being an innovative tech giant, flush with cash, and also a newcomer to the broadband market is allowing Google to play by a different set of rules, and the existing providers are paying close attention. Fiber offers customers connection speeds sometimes 150 times faster than what they were getting, and at just $70 a month. The idea of being freed from the incumbent providers has captured the attention of the public at large, as thousands beg for Google to build in their cities.

In February, Google announced 34 cities where Fiber may build next, but experts are unsure of Google’s commitment to becoming a force that does more than just agitate the market. In the few areas Google does operate, though, they are forcing competition where previously there was none, and that was probably Google’s intention from the start, Mastrangelo said.

“That’s why Google excites people -- it gives them a choice and a really fantastic service,” she said. “It’s something that isn’t available from the competition, so they have a tremendous competitive advantage in the markets that they’ve entered.”