Connected School Buses

The expectation of Wi-Fi access everywhere is making its way to the K-12 market in the form of the “Connected School Bus”. In the ever-increasing world of the Internet of Things IoT, the old cheese wagons of yesteryear are being retired and replaced with modern digital vessels known as Connected School Buses. Connected School Buses are being transformed into mobile classrooms with positive outcomes far beyond learning. The Connected School Bus is a versatile solution combining safety, security and network access with benefits to students, parents, school staff and fleet managers.   

The first and most obvious benefit Connected School Buses provide, is access to internet connectivity which students have come to expect everywhere they go. It’s no secret that traveling with children in a car is made easier by turning on a Wi-Fi hotspot and allowing kids to watch a movie or play games on the iPad. The same thing applies to school buses. By installing internet capability, students can enjoy the same wireless access on the bus that they have on campus. This also means the same web restrictions on campus must be activated on the bus, shielding students from dangerous content.

One of the greatest ways Wi-Fi enabled school buses are being used is to provide internet access to students who may not have Wi-Fi at home. In the 21st century, connected learning has become the new normal, and some students, especially in low-income and rural communities, are missing out on learning technology due to lack of internet at home. Schools are developing initiatives to leave Wi-Fi enabled buses parked in communities after school hours to give students who don’t have internet at home, a chance to connect. In today’s school culture an increasing amount of homework assignments require internet access. Connected School Buses are bridging the homework gap many children face giving kids in rural and low-income areas the opportunity to stay up to speed on their schoolwork and be competitive academically.

Smart Video Surveillance is another feature being installed and used to improve passenger safety and monitor student/driver behavior in real-time. This technology allows for faster, more accurate incident response, improving every aspect of bus transportation for students, parents and fleet managers. This same surveillance system which features HD video recording and two-way audio capabilities gives instructors an opportunity to present learning based content remotely which is particularly helpful for children with long school commutes. This equipment with HD video conferencing technology turns the bus into a learning room with life like experiences for students. For example, Lockheed Martin created ‘The Mars Experience Bus’, the first immersive virtual reality vehicle ever, giving students the opportunity to experience a virtual ride along the red planet.

Wi-Fi enabled buses are having an impact on more than just homework. Connected School Buses are allowing parents to have greater visibility into bus routes telling them if buses will be on time or delayed, a big plus when dealing with freezing temperatures during winter. Wi-Fi capability allows buses to be tracked by GPS to locate the vehicle in real-time and alert personnel if the vehicle travels outside of the assigned route or if a bus needs maintenance. Connected School Buses leave no child behind by providing continued learning outside of the classroom, on the bus, and into homes that lack internet while also delivering safety and security advancements. Connected School Buses are proving to be safer, smarter, and a more efficient form of transportation for students.

 

Technology and the Future of Senior Living

Even though the boomer population is not retiring as early due to recent recession years, more than 40 million people are expected to retire in the U.S. over the next 25 years. Retirees are looking for cost-effective senior care living facilities only to find there are not many options available and the supply is steadily decreasing.  Technology advancements are changing the face of senior care and the traditional nursing home model as we know it is on the decline. Recent cuts to Medicare and Medicaid along with the high cost of employing skilled clinicians, have made the traditional nursing home model challenging from a profit standpoint. It is difficult for existing nursing home facilities to incur the investment cost needed to convert to “smart” facilities, even if the end results will dramatically improve operations. 

While senior citizens still use technology at a lesser rate than younger generations, current research shows the technology gap among the aging population is closing. According to a recent study by Pew Institute, 4-in-10 seniors now own smartphones, more than double the number since 2013. Senior citizens are living longer, fuller lives, and they are utilizing the use of technology more than ever. With the use of smart home technology, more seniors are aging in place or opting for smaller-scale communal living options.

Through the use of digital technology like smart phone apps, personal care robots and telemedicine services, seniors are able to stay in their homes longer allowing care givers and physicians to monitor their healthcare remotely.  For example, personal care robots such as Paro, can maneuver autonomously and carry out a range of tasks. Some personal assistant robots like the Toyota Personal Assist Robot can help with mobility assistance, lifting and bathing. Robots and similar personal care devices work off a series of sensors to detect potentially dangerous situations for people living alone (i.e. fall detection, blood pressure changes, audio and scent detection). Smart phone apps like Medisafe and Tabtime are virtual pill boxes with various compartments and alarms that beep or vibrate when it’s time to take medication.

In addition to increasing the longevity of independent living for seniors, technology is also dramatically impacting future housing trends for seniors. Traditional nursing home facilities are moving into an era of catering mainly to older seniors in need of specialized one-on-one care. Technology is shaping the housing options for seniors allowing them to choose various options like multi-generational housing, small-scale communal living and more eco-friendly housing. From building materials to thermostat controls and shared wi-fi, technology and its growing demand are driving the future of senior living housing from concept to construction.

State-of-the-art technology features are a priority requirement when shopping for senior housing options. CFO’s in the senior living community are responding to the demand for Wi-Fi and investing heavily in high-speed internet connectivity for their facilities. Companies like Vitality Senior Living are answering the call and spending necessary dollars to implement strong, “future-ready” technology infrastructure for their senior communities. Deploying an enterprise solution which consists of both wired and wireless allows Vitality to better ensure life safety for residents as its main priority while providing end-to-end wi-fi coverage for resident enjoyment. Many modern communities offer common areas with internet cafés to give residents a social opportunity to mix and mingle while surfing the internet. Technology in senior living communities and facilities is also being ramped up to better handle things like security (i.e. tracking who comes and goes from a property), staff monitoring and back-end operations like electronic billing and payment processing.

While investing in new and advanced forms of technology for senior living facilities can be expensive and time consuming, it is critical to staying relevant in the industry and meeting the growing demand of residents. As communities look at new projects or go through re-financing on existing communities, it is important to engage technology experts and include forward-thinking solutions in the budget planning process.

 

Recent Hurricanes Spotlight Benefits of Telemedicine

With the recent devastation brought on by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Telemedicine has been in the spotlight playing a big role in delivering medical care to victims trapped in homes and shelters. In a fortuitous twist of fate, earlier this year Texas became the last of the 50 states to abolish the requirement that patient-physician relationships be established with an in-person visit before telemedicine can be used.

Telemedicine has many advantages for both patient and provider including ease and convenience, increased access, fewer missed appointments and expanded care coverage. Patients are getting much of their healthcare information on-demand and as a result, are increasingly requesting more convenient access to their healthcare providers. Patients want the ease and convenience of communicating with their physician via email or through virtual visits. With the use of a computer, webcam and broadband internet access, companies like MDLive and Doctor On Demand provide virtual treatment for things like infections, skin and eye issues, sprains and bruises, back pain, vomiting and diarrhea, colds, coughs, and congestion and most other common medical issues seen in the ER.

In Alabama, telemedicine got a big boost in December of 2016 when the state’s largest insurance provider, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, announced it would provide coverage for telemedicine services like outpatient cardiology, behavioral health, dermatology, infectious diseases and neurology. The hope is, this decision to provide coverage will boost the use of telemedicine in small and rural communities where access to specialty care is limited. For example, Medical Center Barbour in Eufaula, Alabama is using TeleStroke technology to diagnose stroke patients via a neurologist based in Atlanta without risking the critical 3-hour transport time to a regional medical facility.

Another important benefit of Telemedicine in Alabama, particularly with all psychiatric hospitals in the state closing in 2015 except those in Tuscaloosa, is the ability to address behavioral and mental health issues using virtual technology. Studies show that patients dealing with depression have better success rates with telemedicine vs. in-person counseling. Virtual appointments are more successful in treating mental health and behavioral issues because patients are less likely to miss an appointment. Patients who are homebound or have trouble coordinating childcare are more likely to keep regular therapy sessions with the convenience of virtual access.

Telemedicine improves clinical workflows by allowing healthcare providers to quickly assess the reason for the call or visit, prioritize care and deploy additional resources if needed. While telemedicine is not a fix-all to the comprehensive challenges surrounding healthcare, it does help bridge the gap and improve treatment numbers by removing barriers to things like transportation, location and convenience.

The Importance of Maintaining Skills and Certifications in Your Career

Hiring employees who lack technical knowledge or don’t have the right skills for a job can prove to be costly in terms of both employee turnover and damage to a company’s reputation.  Validating a candidate’s certifications is quickly becoming one of the primary tools employers are using to guard against costly risks to their organization.

Certifications are a way to ensure the competence of professionals by measuring skills and knowledge. Maintaining certain licenses and certifications are an avenue for advancement in many professions. Often, the drive and determination to earn a certification are strong in the beginning of one’s career, but over time complacency sets in and maintaining certifications and/or seeking new ones becomes less of a priority. Staying up to date on your certifications shows your commitment to success and helps ensure longevity in your professional career.

More and more companies, particularly in the field of technology are making it mandatory to hold certain software and cloud based certifications, including staying up to speed on new technology releases. With cloud based releases updating on average roughly every four months, it can become difficult to stay current on certifications amidst managing project deadlines.

When it comes to information technology, the difference in maintaining certifications vs. not can be significant with regard to earning potential. According to a recent article published by Forbes Magazine, IT professionals with security related certifications are earning on average $17,000 more per year than the median IT certification salary.  Citrix certifications have annual salaries that range from $99,411 to $105,086 with a median salary of $102,365. If that’s not enough to get your attention, all 5 AWS certifications available pay above market with the average salary being $125,591.  Technology evolves at warp speed and certifications are no different. Having valid certifications promote your credibility. It’s no longer good enough to simply be knowledgeable, you must have the certifications to back it up.

All in all, don’t let your skills wane. Maintaining and evolving your skills is very important and the proof will be in your career escalation. Your drive to be successful will speak for itself and will create opportunities otherwise not possible. No matter what kind of work you do, adopting the mindset to never let a certification or license lapse, will only serve to expand your career opportunities and make you a more valuable employee.

Digital Ceiling Technology

80 percent of employees today say they want to work for companies that are digitally-enabled. With technology constantly evolving, building technology has become a key component in meeting the demand of a digitally-enabled workplace while improving safety, productivity, and comfort for building occupants and employees.

Solutions like Cisco’s Digital Ceiling Technology utilize IoT to incorporate lighting, heating, cooling, and security systems via motion detection and a multitude of other sensors. A single mobile app controls the sensors, resulting in a highly personalized user experience and data driven building management.

What You Can Do With A Digital Building:

  • Combine disparate building networks by merging lighting, air, physical security, and other networks onto a single IP network.
  • Improve efficiency and sustainability by saving money on energy and operating expenses to meet environmental-protection standards.
  • Improve building security and safety by providing a comprehensive threat intelligence and defense by using the one network as a sensor and enforcer.
  • Deliver new user experiences with room temperature, light color, and intensity settings that follow employees to their work stations.
  • Enable business analytics because sensors help analyze traffic patterns, use of space, and occupancy rate in real time.

Digital Ceiling Technology makes it easier to harness the intelligence of your building by linking building services via a single converged IP Network. The result is a smart and connected building that lowers costs and eliminates more than 40 percent of energy waste.

ITS’ Digital Building Solutions provide installation simplicity, seamless security, and sustainable savings through 5 simple steps.

1. Simple Construction

Traditional buildings have a complex manual installation and expensive high-voltage AC. With a digital building, there is simple install via mobile app and inexpensive PoE/DC cabling. LED (PoE) lighting accelerated the transformation of building systems while decreasing installation and operating costs. 70 percent of new commercial building lighting installations will implement this smart lighting because the LED and PoE technologies easily provide energy savings and fit the International Energy Conservation Code. Installing a traditional building’s AC wiring will be 20 percent more expensive than a digital building.

2. Deploy Networking and Technology

Digital buildings incorporate a unified IP network and IoT protocols. This allows for simple management and deployment. Traditional buildings include multiple inflexible and unsecure technologies while digital network architecture gives dependable automated security to building systems. With a digital building a business can save up to 30 percent in energy, spatial management, and maintenance at large sites.

3. Converge Architectures and Building Systems

Siloed building subsystems, independent subsystem difficulties, and delayed maintenance or repair are common in traditional buildings. Digital buildings, however, allow centrally controlled management systems for the building with a simplified debugging and reporting system. Converging heating vacuum and air conditioning systems (HVAC), lighting, and surveillance systems, digital buildings are capable of receiving their LEED Certification. These advanced digital building solutions can cut energy use by up to 40 percent.

4. Move In

68 percent of people do not like their office lighting and 50 percent are often dissatisfied with the office temperature. Digital buildings allow customized temperature, humidity, and lighting control at each personal workspace. An estimated 16 percent improvement in productivity happens when employees can adjust these controls. In a traditional building, company devices do not communicate with each other. Digital buildings allow interoperability of IoT devices for analytics.

5. Manage and Maintain

Real time analytics and heatmaps through networked sensors allow savings of approximately 38 percent in digital buildings. Commercial real estate projects an annual growth of 79 percent in sensor deployment from 2015 to 2020. Traditional buildings waste around 30 percent of consumed energy. Buildings without digital solutions require paper records and manual reporting which equals more time and money.

Case Study: Results of Cisco implementing their own Digital Ceiling in new office building, RBC Waterpark Place, in Toronto, Canada:

  • 78% of occupants report a better sense of well-being and comfort
  • Potential $2M in annual productivity gains from better lighting and temperature controls
  • About 10-15% operational savings with energy efficiency
  • $150,000 annual savings in conference room energy alone
  • Coined “The Smartest Building in North America”

“Digital Ceiling Technology changes the way we think about how we work and operate on a daily basis,” says Steve Meany, CEO of ITS. “When you think about the impact of this technology, particularly in settings like schools, hospitals, and government buildings where safety and security are primary concerns, the impact of this technology is highly significant,” says Meany.

To learn more about Digital Ceiling Technology or to request a quote, contact ITS or visit their website http://www2.its-networks.com.

 

Information Transport Solutions, Inc. Presents Local Nonprofits with Donations Raised from 11th Annual Charity Golf Tournament

 

Wetumpka, Ala. – Information Transport Solutions, Inc. (http://www2.its-networks.com)   awarded today proceeds from their 11th Annual Charity Golf Tournament totaling $25,000 to four local charities.

ITS employees organize the annual fundraiser as a fun way to bring customers, teammates and business partners together in a recreational environment with the common goal of giving back to the local community. This year, ITS raised $25,000 from the tournament and all proceeds from the event were donated to the following four charities: Jason Michael Hilty Memorial Scholarship, Imagination Library of Elmore County, Coosa Outdoor Worship Spot (COWS), and the Family Sunshine Center.

The Jason Michael Hilty Scholarship Fund is a college fund for graduating Wetumpka High School students. Imagination Library provides books to the homes of Elmore County children to stimulate a love of reading and increase literary knowledge. Coosa Outdoor Worship Spot is a 15,000 square feet facility with dorms, a gym and an outside worship area for church camps and special events. The Family Sunshine Center is a domestic violence support center with the mission to end family violence and sexual assault and to cultivate hope and healing.

“From the beginning, ITS has focused on giving back to our local community,” said ITS President Quincy Minor.   “We donate proceeds to these local charities because we believe in the work they are doing and share their vision to make a positive difference in the lives of those living in the river region.”

The 11th Annual ITS Charity Golf Tournament was held on May 18, 2017 at Robert Trent Jones in Prattville, Alabama. The donation check presentation was made at ITS’ Wetumpka headquarters on August 22, 2017.

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 Information Transport Solutions, Inc. (ITS) is a full-service provider of technology solutions integrating voice, video, and data to make organizations more profitable and productive. ITS helps educational institutions build the right infrastructure and implement technologies to build a safe environment, enhance administrative efficiency, and create 21st century learning environments.  Other key markets for ITS include financial, banking, and healthcare.  Founded in 1998, ITS employs nearly 100 highly trained technicians, customer support, and IT professionals.  Information Transport Solutions, Inc. was listed on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies for four consecutive years.

VoIP Plays Integral Role in Daily Communications

Do you know what happens when Voice over Internet Protocol shuts down? Voice over Internet Protocol, also known as VoIP,  is technology that delivers voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol networks. Simply put, VoIP allows computers and telephones to communicate; for today’s connected business, VoIP is critical for communication functions. Understanding the need for reliable technology and its impact on an organization’s bottom line is among the many reasons it makes sense to take VoIP back to its roots and deliver a product with strength and consistency built to increase efficiency and drastically reduce communication downtime.

Transmitting a human voice between a telephone to a computer makes VoIP a real-time application. It’s vital that organizations understand and achieve the optimal range of bandwidth for their communication services.

Bottom Line Impact of VoIP

  • VolP is cost effective- by running solely on internet connection, cuts phone company costs and allows organizations to save money. Another way VolP is cost effective is that hosted VolP does not require hardware. Everything is served from the   cloud, which means that in the event of an unplanned disaster or if internet connectivity is down, the organization can still communicate with clients and customers.
  • VolP allows multiple-location organizations to be connected- this prevents errors and streamlines communication and workflow. Financial institutions, for example, must stay connected at all times, with a strong and secure network backing up their financial transactions. Processing transactions and providing customers with real-time account access and customer service requires a network infrastructure which constantly functions at the highest level. In a similar fashion, if the VOIP system goes down, it affects every aspect of the organization, causing frustration for customers and, ultimately, loss of revenue.
  • A VolP system ensures constant connectivity- organizations that are on the move use VolP with mobile applications to ensure they are never disconnected from their customers and their possible needs. Employees are able to make business calls on their personal phone, home phones, cell phones, and even from a hotel on vacation. This helps when staff members  working away from the office.

VoIP Has a New Look

Voice over IP has come a long way since its creation in 1995. It is now viewed as a tool that helps organizations be successful and stay connected.

Some features of VoIP include:

  • XML screens capable of live video for video teleconferencing and other real time applications
  • caller id
  • voicemail
  • call blocking and forwarding
  • 3-way calling
  • remote management
  • collaboration tools
  • call conferencing

VoIP will see continued advancements in 2017 and 2018, including cloud-based firewalls traversal, 5G technology support, and more new models that introduce touch screens and browser-based applications. Clear communication can start today for your organization or business. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact ITS.

The Great Equalizer: Technology and Special Needs Students

By: Steve Meany, CEO

The past decade has seen a steady increase in the prevalence of autism, Asperger’s, and Pervasive Development Disorder. Today, it’s estimated that one in 68 children fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. While there’s been a tremendous amount of awareness raised over the same time, there are still some misunderstandings about education and special needs kids.  

One popular myth? That students with special needs cannot use the same technology as other students. In fact, children with special needs often have advanced technological skills and are frequently attracted to tech devices. Let’s look at the impact technology is having on special needs education – and how it’s opening the door to a future all students can participate in.

One Term, Many Definitions

When people hear the term special needs, they often assume it applies only to a deficiency in the student him or herself. But it’s important to think of the word “needs” as a noun, as in a technological tool that helps students accomplish tasks they would not be able to without the tool. For example:

  • The barrier for students who struggle with reading is not that they cannot read, but rather that they are required to read to complete their lesson.
  • The barrier for students who have motor control limitations is not that they cannot write, but that a pencil, pen, or keyboard is required to do the task.
  • The barrier for students who have issues with memorizing facts is not that they did not learn the facts, but that they need to use those facts to complete the more complex objective of the lesson.

Fortunately, technological solutions are available to address these and other barriers students with special needs face.

Technology Solutions that Break Down Barriers

Incorporating personalized learning by bringing technology into the classroom increases all students’ motivation to learn and achieve. Recent innovative advances have improved traditional assistive tools to create technological solutions that give educators a much larger toolbox to work with. Some of the best include:

Universal Access Functionality

Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices offer students, including those with mobility limitations, the option to deploy or download assistive technologies such as speech recognition, Braille displays, text-to-voice solutions, and video conferencing for students who require sign language.

Special Needs Apps

Developed by the non-profit organization Autisum2Ability, App2Talk is a customizable app designed to help give voice to all non-verbal students. It offers 3 levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced, and allows users with limited or no expressive communication skills to communicate with educators and their peers. See. Touch. Learn. uses technology to replace flash cards, and Articulation Station helps students learn to articulate more clearly.

Up-to-Date Teaching Methods

There are a number of websites that offer both teachers and parents information and suggestions for using technology and other innovative methods in the classroom for students with special needs. Adapting for Autism is just one, sharing resources for working with kids with communication deficits and behavior challenges.

Most special needs students can and do benefit from technology in the classroom. When used properly, it’s a powerful teaching tool that engages students and elevates their learning, allowing them to achieve greater levels of independence, gain more confidence, and seek out new opportunities.

How Cities Can Help Schools Bridge the Digital Divide

By: Steve Meany, CEO

In an earlier post, we talked about the lack of broadband service to school districts in rural areas, the resulting homework gap for students, and the need for comprehensive strategies to develop improved access for every community. These strategies will need to come not only from the school systems themselves, but also from communities, elected officials, businesses, and the philanthropic community.

Here’s how one community, Boston, is addressing the problem.

Boston’s Extensive Broadband Expansion

Boston’s fiber optic network service has been up and running since 2008 and originally provided services for 130 City offices and public safety entities. Since then, the city has added 50 more buildings and hotspots. Today, they’re working to broaden the network, connecting public schools throughout the area. The network, when implemented, will bring connectivity capacity to public schools and offer students better access to information, bridge the “homework gap,” and level the education playing field for all. There are currently 26 schools and 38 libraries connected to the network and the expansion will eventually add 89 more schools, giving them better internet speeds for educational tools like:

  • Computer-based tests
  • Online learning
  • Video services

The $10 million project is part of Boston’s Imagine Boston 2030 growth initiative and will also be used to aid public safety communications for first responders. A request for bids on the ambitious project began on April 3 and will run through June 6, 2017, when the proposal request is due. The project represents years of planning and is seen as a solution to the city’s diverse broadband needs, including bridging the digital divide for low-income residents.

How Lower-Income Families View Tech in the Classroom

Lower income families often see both opportunity and risk in their children’s technology use in the classroom. Over 75% of them believe that technology use helps their child learn important new skills, exposes her or him to important new ideas, and offers new and interesting means of expression. The majority of those parents, though, also worry that their child:

  • Will be exposed to inappropriate content.
  • Will spend less time with family and friends.
  • Will be a victim of cyberbullying.

Educators can take a proactive approach in easing these concerns while encouraging parents to be a part of supporting their child’s classroom success through technology. Steps like involving parents in changes to classroom instruction right from the start, providing opportunities for parents to learn how to use the technology themselves, and establishing an on-going outreach program are a good start.

From an emotional standpoint, educators can:

  • Demonstrate to parents specific ideas and skills their child learns in the classroom, and explain how the parents can help extend that learning to the home.
  • Listen to and empathize with parents’ concerns about technology’s impact on the student-teacher relationship, educating them on how technology actually enhances it.
  • Educate parents on recognizing online harm and online risk and how to protect their child from both.

Hopefully, Boston’s model will be emulated across the country. Cities like Virginia Beach and New York, with its hot-spot loan initiative, are already on board. For these cities, broadband expansion is more than a noble goal – it is a necessary one. And it’s one they believe will have a meaningful impact on closing the digital divide for thousands of students.

 

Internet Access in Classrooms Is Not Enough for Many Students

By: Steve Meany, CEO

In an effort to bridge the so-called digital divide, school districts across the country have been giving students laptops to use in the classroom and at home. But for many of these students, there’s no point in taking the laptops with them at the end of the day because they can’t get online where they live. While only two percent of people in urban areas lack broadband service, a much larger 39 percent of those in rural areas do. That’s approximately 725,000 people without the internet access they sorely need.

Equal Access to Information

First, the good news. The 2016 Broadband Progress Report adopted by the Federal Communications Commission found that 90 percent of Americans have access to broadband internet service at the FCC’s benchmark speed of 25 Mbps for downloads and 3Mbps for uploads. But the 10 percent who don’t represent 34 million people, including the students who need it most. The statistics get worse the more rural the location. For example, the same report found that 68 percent (1.3 million) of people living in rural areas of Tribal lands lack access.

An increasing number of schools do have high-speed connections, but 41 percent of schools and 47 percent of students lack the connectivity they need to meet the FCC’s goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff. The challenge for the private and public sectors is how to expand robust broadband to all Americans in a timely way.

Funding Gap

Too many students face what is called the “homework gap.” The challenge of working on homework assignments without a dependable internet source at home means students must often head to the library or other wifi-enabled locations like cafes to squeeze in the extra hours for homework.

The homework gap can have serious, long-term implications, as today’s students need digital skills to survive and thrive. Many educators believe the dearth of access to broadband is robbing millions of students of their full potential. So, what can be done? Some cities and counties are looking for creative ways to fund the gap, including applying for state grants.

Boosting Rural Internet Service

Many rural teachers feel duty-bound to get their students the internet access they need in order to compete on a level playing field. Some do their part by opening classrooms early and keeping the library open late. There are a number of funding opportunities out there, but competition for money is fierce and the available funds limited.

  • In Wisconsin, state broadband grants are aimed at getting rural communities out of the digital slow lane. More than a dozen local telecom companies are poised to receive $1.5 million from government subsidies, which will help boost internet service in more than 20 communities.
  • In California, the Coachella Valley Unified District has fitted school buses with routers, making it easier for students to work on homework assignments as they travel back and forth to school. The buses are double-duty vehicles: after drop-offs are finished at the end of the day, they’re parked in public spaces where students can safely study close to home.
  • In Colorado, the state recently granted $2.1 million in grants to bring broadband to rural communities, with eight infrastructure projects awarded grant funding that will help bring broadband internet access to over 4,700 households and 175 businesses.

Access to broadband internet service is vital to rural communities, and more comprehensive strategies will need to be developed to improve access for every community. School systems will not solve the problem alone. Communities, elected officials, businesses, and the philanthropic community all have a vital role to play.