The infrastructure necessary to use broadband to reach applications on the Internet. Access in California is primarily, although not exclusive an issue in rural communities. In rural California fewer consumers have access to the Internet using broadband than in urban California.
According to a survey by the Imperial County Office of Education, the digital divide in Imperial County is nearly 40%, which is one of the highest in the nation. Fortunately, funders such as CETF and Alliance Healthcare are leading the effort to pay closer attention to these rural and often overlooked parts of the state with direct funding and by learning more about the community they're trying to serve, directly from the members of the community itself.
The laptop didn't just fall from the sky. The laptop giveaway was organized by Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia, California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) president Sunne Wright McPeak and iFoster founder Reid Cox.
A 65-foot flatbed truck filled with computers offering free Internet access to migrant laborers is one project among many aimed at promoting universal broadband access along the Central Coast. The group behind it is the Central Coast Broadband Consortium (CCBC), which aims to bridge the "digital divide" in Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties.
Richmond High graduate Bernard Naquin, 19, won't have to look too far to find a computer these days. The Contra Costa County teenager and Diablo Valley College student was awarded a brand new Dell laptop Monday morning at the Nevin Center. "I was surprised when they told me I was going to receive the computer," Naquin said. "Out of everyone in the county, they chose me. I didn't expect it."
iFoster, a California-based advocacy nonprofit for foster children, has selected Contra Costa County to share in a three-year, $300,000 grant to expand access to computers and affordable Internet service to vulnerable youth.
In partnership with the California Emerging Technology Fund, led by former Contra Costa Supervisor Sunne Wright McPeak, the organizations this week launched the initiative and the county declared May Foster Care Month.
"Broadband is a transforming technology that is essential to help foster youth build better lives," said Sunne Wright McPeak, president and CEO of CETF. "With this grant, children in foster care, emancipated youth and their families will benefit from access to affordable Internet service and computers. We support iFoster in finding innovative ways to help this community connect online with each other, and to public- and private-sector services."
San Joaquin Valley Regional Consortium (SJVRC)—a public-private entity made up of telecommunications providers, government, private businesses, nonprofit and health agencies—is honing its plans to accelerate broadband deployment, accessibility and adoption within Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare Counties.
Rural health-care providers will soon have their own broadband network for the practice of telemedicine in California, according to Christine Martin, executive director of the California Telemedicine & eHealth Center (CTEC).