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ITIF Panel: Tech Innovations on the Road
ITIF Panel: Tech Innovations on the Road

I attended a panel discussion, hosted by ITIF (The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation), all about how the world of transportation is undergoing a dramatic transformation thanks to innovations in technology. A panel of representatives from both the automotive industry... Read The Story...

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ITIF Panel: Tech Innovations on the Road  

I attended a panel discussion, hosted by ITIF (The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation), all about how the world of transportation is undergoing a dramatic transformation thanks to innovations in technology.

A panel of representatives from both the automotive industry and the tech world spoke about how the transportation industry has begun to incorporate technologies that help make our cars safer, while also reducing some problems such as traffic congestion.  Consumers need to care about the delivery of these new innovative technologies, because they make our cars safer with many exciting new features.  The industry is finding that consumers are increasingly demanding connected car.

A hot topic on the panel is that we are now connecting everything, or as Mary Brown of Cisco stated, we are in a time of the “Internet of Everything” and our cars are definitely a part of this connected world.  With these connected cars, and other IT devices, comes a greater demand on spectrum – and everything needs to be “enabled.”  Brown emphasized  it is critical that we get a sufficient amount of spectrum for the Internet of today and tomorrow; more spectrum is needed.

In addition to the panel discussion, we had an opportunity to see a demonstration of a new concept vehicle from Toyota, the i-Road.  It is a new front-drive, zero emission, and electric powered vehicle.  It will be helpful in reducing congestion in urban areas.  I’ve included a picture of the i-Road below.

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ITIF also released a paper on this topic, “The Road Ahead: The Emerging Policy Debates for IT in Vehicles.”

 
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New Survey on Older Adults and Internet Use  

There was an interesting event on the topic of older adults and technology use this week that presented some initial findings from a survey conducted by John Horrigan, PhD.  The program was hosted by the Advanced Communications Law and Policy Institute (ACLP), at the New York Law School.

Horrigan’s survey and study, “Closing the Digital Divide: How Seniors are Navigating the Digital Divide,” offers some important information regarding how the Internet impacts older individuals’ lives and what they primarily do when they are connected.  Not surprisingly, when older adults are connected and use the Internet, they find it quite valuable to their daily lives.  In response to the question, “How hard would it be to give up one of these devices in your home (Internet, cable, cell phone, landline phone, or newspaper),” more people responded that it would be very hard to give up the Internet – even more difficult than their phone or cable service!  Now that’s value!  Speaking of value, the greatest reason mentioned as to why they subscribed to an Internet service was to make it easier to communicate with family and friends.  Getting – and staying – connected with family and friends is most certainly a top priority for older individuals and the online world is recognized as an excellent tool to help facilitate communications.

Another initial key finding of the survey is that training in using the Internet and digital devices led to higher levels of impact and online use.  Digital literacy programs have been shown to be key components in helping older adults get online – and stay online.

The final study based on the survey results will be released in a couple of weeks and I look forward to reading more about Horrigan’s important findings.

 
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Modernizing Communications Law for American Consumers  

I attended a panel on the Hill this week hosted by NetCompetition entitled “Thinking and Starting Anew: Modernizing Communications Law for American Consumers.”

Scott Cleland, NetCompetition, kicked-off the panel with remarks and the statement that “consumers, not technology, should be the organizing principle and top priority in modernizing communications law.”  He stated that modern law should build on the principles of competition, consumer protection, universal connectivity, and public safety.  One concluding remark he made that I found compelling is that the most modern part of the U.S. economy (telecommunications and technology) is burdened with the most obsolete laws and obligations.

The consumer organization representatives on the panel offered their thoughts on the topic.  Mark Cooper, Consumer Federation of America, provided an interesting historical perspective on the evolution of public service principles and the economic conditions in communications.  Cooper’s principles include seamless interconnection and interoperability, marketplace protections – free from concentration, universal service, and consumer protections.  Gene Kimmelman, Public Knowledge, spoke more practically about what it might take to advance a Telecom Act Update.  He spoke about getting a bipartisan team together with key committee members and industry players (and other key parties) to map out an approach.  Hal Singer, Progressive Policy Institute, raised several important points:

1) Current regulations are based on a monopoly regime, and it’s time to make the cut.

2) There are horizontal and vertical regulations

3) A few providers are sufficient for competition in this industry; we don’t need, and can’t support, too many.

The emphasis on the panel was most certainly on consumers, but also on the need to reform regulations.  I’m sure the discussion and debate on this topic will continue for some time to come.

 
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Consumer Resources

Below are additional resources to more information about online privacy.

Consumer Guide to Online Privacy (PDF)
What is 4G Wireless Service? (PDF)
Consumer Online Privacy Survey
2008 Online Safety Survey
bNetS@vvy
www.onguardonline.gov
www.ikeepsafe.org/
www.getnetwise.org
www.fosi.org
www.enough.org

 

Other Organizations

National Caucus and Center on Black Aged:
http://www.ncba-aged.org/

National Consumers League:
http://www.nclnet.org/

 

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