As we come to understand that our interactions with each other will continue to be primarily “virtual” for many months ahead, I find myself returning to the idea that friendship and empathy fueled the start and the success of the early Internet. I recently had the privilege of addressing the World Summit on the Information Society, where I emphasized that the future of the Internet must follow a similar path, with leaders prioritizing equity and “do no harm” policies in their shaping and design of new and old systems.
Our Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy initiative at PCI continues its work with UN agencies, IEEE, the Hasso-Plattner Institute, and others to incorporate the original spirit of the Internet into the next phase of its evolution. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ words from earlier this summer ring truer than ever: “The world is shifting from analog to digital technology at a faster pace than we could EVER have predicted with promise and perils, with criminals on the march.” Our collaborative efforts to ensure that the Internet is a positive force for good has never been more important.
This month’s newsletter captures work being done by those in the PCI community to increase access and connectivity throughout the US, including: Bill Price’s work at the Georgia Technology Authority in partnership with the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government to publish a series of interactive broadband maps revealing connectivity across the entire state. In California schools, CENIC is advocating for universal one-gigabit broadband to connect the one in four K-12 households statewide that still lacks access. On tribal lands, leaders like PCI’s Project Eagle Feather lead, Matthew Rantanen, are working to further extend the deadline for Native American tribes to apply for spectrum. Each of these efforts — and so many across the United States and the globe — is more urgent during the pandemic, and deserves our continued attention and advocacy.
This month, we have also welcomed speakers to our bimonthly Community Calls, the first of which — from Mike Nelson — inspired Contributing Writer Eileen Clegg to create “Our Cloud Home,” a visual representation of how today’s Internet is taking shape in each of our lives and local, national, and global communities.
These past few months have been difficult for each of us in so many ways. I find solace and inspiration here, in the PCI community, and in the unending drive of the changemakers and advocates among and around us working harder than ever to bring compassion and humanity to this critical work.