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Digital Learning in the 21st Century

March 8, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:234:height=102,width=70]]From Des Moines to Charlottesville school districts across the country are making sure there is a laptop in the hands of every high school student. California’s e-textbook initiative augurs the nationwide rise of digital course materials. Teachers now use web videos to reinforce the quadratic formula or impart a civics lesson. Technology is moving forward. Our classrooms and our curriculum need to catch up.

We’re joining with the New York City Department of Education tomorrow morning for an event on digital learning in the 21st century. We’ll speak on the promise of wireless and present a roundtable on the future of K – 12 education, as America begins to employ digital learning solutions. This includes the adoption of digital textbooks and the possibilities of wireless technology to enhance learning in the classroom. Wednesday’s event will explore both the benefits and the obstacles to this shift. The event will take place tomorrow, March 9 from 10:30am to 12:15pm at the NYC iSchool at 131 6th Avenue, at Dominick Street.

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Sharing the stage with Chairman Genachowski at the roundtable is a handful of the nation’s standouts in education, from both the public and private sectors. This includes Sharon Greenberger, COO of the NYC Department of Education; Alisa Berger, Principal of NYC iSchool, our host; Matthew Small, Chief Business Officer at Blackbord; and other luminaries.

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The Big and the Up-and-Coming

by Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner
March 8, 2011

Spending two days in New York City can be exhausting. I had a number of meetings with mega news organizations and their executives in order to discuss the ever-changing media landscape, which continues to modify the way we view and access news content. Do you peruse the headlines on your blackberry while riding the subway, or do you prefer the feel of an actual newspaper? Do you listen to podcasts of Charlie Rose while working out or do you watch him interview his guests while sitting on your couch? Media companies are dying to know the answers to these questions as they continue to simultaneously innovate and study consumer habits, making this a fascinating time to have an eye on the industry. I greatly enjoyed learning about the myriad new approaches being used to deliver content to the innumerable devices we now carry, and I look forward to watching how future trends will form.

But the highlight of my time by far was my visit to People’s Production House. PPH is a non-profit that educates students in how to effectively conduct televised interviews and instills general production skills. Additionally, PPH serves as a type of tutor and information resource for individuals looking to develop plenary and basic computer literacy skills and the knowledge necessary to access all that the world wide web has to offer.

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Auditing FCC.Gov with Open Source DeveloperView

March 3, 2011

The current FCC.gov has hundreds of thousands of pages, hidden across a myriad of different directories and subdomains. When thinking about how we wanted to migrate content over to the new FCC.gov, we had to find a way to organize these pages into categories based on a number of different factors. No existing product fit our needs so we made our own and called it “DeveloperView.”

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DeveloperView is an open source PHP/MySQL project designed to allow government agencies and other organizations, by aggregating otherwise distributed institutional knowledge, to overlay a third dimension of information over a web page and provide website stakeholders the ability to view, organize, and collaborate in the management of site content. When used in conjunction with our open source website crawler, it can provide complete statistics on tag usage and progress to a goal of tagging every page.

Here at the FCC, we’ve had each office and bureau use DeveloperView to categorize their pages into four main tags: archive, rewrite, consumer, and industry. We are now using these tags to import and classify pages into the new FCC.gov.

We’ve found DeveloperView useful in the redesign project and want to share it with any organization redesigning their website. The source code is released under the GNU General Public License and our current release is available on GitHub. Right now the project takes a bit of knowledge of PHP and MySQL to set up but we are planning to release a version of DeveloperView that runs right out of the box on a flash drive.

We encourage you to give the tool a try or if you are familiar with PHP, invite you to contribute back to the project itself.

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More News with the FCC Registration Numbers

February 24, 2011
FCC license holders and others doing business with the Commission are likely to be already familiar with the Commission’s Registration System, also known as “CORES,” which primarily is used by registrants to obtain an identifying number called an FCC Registration Number, or “FRN.”  These unique ten-digit number sequences allow registrants to submit or file applications to the Commission, as well as remit payments, and are used by all Commission systems to easily identify individuals and companies when they interact with the agency.  They also serve an important role by aiding the Commission’s compliance with the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, which was enacted by Congress to address concerns that debts owed to the Federal government were not being properly collected.  
 
On December 6, 2010, the Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) proposing modifications intended to make CORES more feature-friendly and improve the Commission’s ability to comply with various statutes that govern debt collection and the collection of personal information by the federal government.  One of the primary goals of this proceeding is to improve the interface with CORES so that you can use the system in a more efficient and effective manner.  Some of the proposed modifications to CORES are summarized below, but the full text of the NPRM can be found on the Commission’s web site.  Note that comments to the proposals raised in the NPRM must be submitted on or before March 3, 2011, while reply comments must be submitted no later than March 18, 2011.  
 
I’d like to also mention that on March 10, 2011, we’ll be holding a forum with staff and the public to explore legal and technical challenges associated with the proposed modifications that were raised in the NPRM.
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First 24 hours

by Michael Byrne, Geospatial Information Officer
February 18, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:158:height=100,width=70]]The launch of the National Broadband Map marks the beginning of a promising new venture: empowering consumers, researchers, policy-makers, and developers to truly understand what broadband means in America.

This idea—a powerful way to navigate huge troves of data to increase transparency and understanding—drove the production of the map. In building the map, our team had a hunch that there would be a hunger for a tool that served up this level of detail and information. The talented designers, web architects, and geospatial pros kept that in mind throughout the entire building process.

When the map went live yesterday, the response was astounding, with the number of requests to the website averaging more than 1,000 per second! Below is just a short list of the metrics we observed on our first day;

  • Total hits yesterday: 158,123,884
  • Hits served by cache: 141,068,348 (89.21%)
  • Total Bytes Transferred: 863GB
  • Peak Requests per Second: 8,970
  • Average Requests per Second: 1,095
  • Visits in the first 10 hours: over 500,000

This phenomenal response shows that the investment of time, energy, and—not least of all—Congressional funds were well worth it. The National Broadband Map clearly has a market of interest, and we’re extremely proud to see that market being well served.

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The National Broadband Map

by Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative – NTIA
February 17, 2011

Welcome to the first-ever public, searchable nationwide map of broadband access.

The National Broadband Map is an unprecedented project created by NTIA, in collaboration with the FCC, and in partnership with each state, territory and the District of Columbia. We created the map at the direction of Congress, which recognized that economic opportunities are driven by access to 21st Century infrastructure.

With funding from NTIA's State Broadband Data & Development Program, our state partners have gathered and worked to validate broadband data from thousands of providers across the country. Together, we developed a dataset and website that includes more than 25 million searchable records displaying where broadband Internet service is available, the technology used to provide the service, the maximum advertised speeds of the service, and the names of the broadband providers. Whether you are a consumer seeking more information on the broadband options available to you, a researcher or policymaker working to spur greater broadband deployment, a local official aiming to attract investment in your community, or an application developer with innovative ideas, the National Broadband Map can help. And if you don't find the answer you're looking for on the map itself, you can download the entire dataset.

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While the launch of this map is a huge accomplishment, today is just the beginning. Our partners in the states are working to expand and update this important dataset, and we will update the map with new data every six months. In the meantime, you can help. Each time you search the map, you have the opportunity to tell us about the data you're seeing. This crowdsourced feedback will be an important tool to improve and refine the data.

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IssueMap Round-up

by Michael Byrne, Geographic Information Officer
February 16, 2011

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We’re really proud and humbled by the splash that IssueMap made last week. Thanks to the team at FortiusOne for rolling out a high-quality product that obviously hit the mark.

It’s exciting to see some of the cool IssueMaps that are shared over social networks. You can follow @IssueMap on Twitter to catch the shared IssueMaps published there. We’ve also put up a new Reboot page that collects a few FCC data sets and maps them on IssueMap.

We continue to hold strong to the belief that -- done right -- mapping will significantly change the way we understand data, solve problems, and tell compelling stories.

Here are some of the different angles on IssueMap:

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Demand for mobile broadband

February 10, 2011

Cisco recently released an update to its Visual Networking Index: Mobile Data Traffic Forecast report, which contains projections of data usage on mobile wireless networks over the next five years. The report is widely followed because Cisco’s role as a network equipment supplier throughout the network ecosystem – including wireline networks, cellular networks, and consumer WiFi networks – gives them some unique insights into where network trends are heading. Last year’s VNI report, which projected surging demand on wireless networks, was an input into the spectrum demand analysis we released this past fall. We were therefore interested to see how Cisco’s report changed since the prior edition.

The bottom line is that Cisco continues to foresee an enormous surge in wireless demand. Let’s take a look at their North American regional breakout. Cisco estimates that in 2010, North Americans transmitted 49 Petabytes (PB)per month over mobile networks. That’s about 4,900 times the amount of information in the printed collection of the Library of Congress. By 2015, Cisco expects this number will grow to 986 Petabytes – nearly one Exabyte, equivalent to almost 100,000 Libraries of Congress.

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National Women’s Heart Health Month

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
February 10, 2011

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As we celebrate Black History Month, we also recognize February as National Women’s Heart Health Month. This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) is hosting the Make the Call, Don’t Miss a Beat campaign to encourage women to call 9-1-1 immediately when the seven symptoms of a heart attack occur:

  • Chest pain, discomfort, pressure or squeezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness or sudden dizziness
  • Unusual upper body pain, or discomfort in one or both arms, back, shoulder, neck, jaw, or upper part of the stomach
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

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The issues surrounding Women’s Heart Health are especially important to the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. Every minute a woman suffers a heart attack in America, but according to a 2009 American Heart Association (AHA) survey, many are not aware of the key symptoms of a heart attack. More astounding is the fact that only 50% of women said they would call 9-1-1 if they thought they were having a heart attack. It is imperative for the safety of women that these statistics change; 9-1-1 is the number to call during such health events.

During this month’s observance of Women’s Heart Health and in the months to follow, please encourage yourselves, your mothers, wives, aunts and sisters to educate themselves on the symptoms of heart attack and, without hesitation or procrastination, to call 9-1-1. It could literally mean the difference between life and death.

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Jammin' - A Hit for Bob Marley, a Miss for Communications

by Michele Ellison, Chief of Enforcement Bureau
February 9, 2011

Over the last several years, cell and GPS jammers have become increasingly portable and accessible to consumers on the Internet. These websites often mislead consumers, suggesting that cell jammers may be used lawfully to silence unwanted cell phone use in restaurants, movie theaters, or on the roads. And, some websites (including many based outside the U.S.) claim that individual consumers are responsible for determining the legality of their jammers.

Don't be fooled!

Because jammers are designed solely to block authorized communications, the marketing, sale, and operation of jammers is illegal in the United States. Why? Well, using jamming devices can endanger the public.

Jamming devices are indiscriminate. For example, when a cell jammer is used, the jammer's unwanted signal is often set to the same frequency as the phone signal, only stronger.

The jammer's signal can be so powerful that it cancels the signal of all phones in its range – yes, it may silence loud conversations disturbing those nearby, but it also can prevent a desperate teenager from calling 9-1-1 to report an accident, an elderly person from placing an urgent call to a doctor, or anyone else from successfully placing an emergency or other safety-related call.

Similarly, GPS jammers are often touted as "anti-spy" devices that can prevent an employer or a suspicious spouse from tracking your movements in your car. However, GPS jammers can also disable the E911 function in certain cell phones that allows emergency services to home in on 9-1-1 callers who are injured or otherwise unable to provide their location.

Given these real public safety concerns, the Enforcement Bureau has adopted a strict enforcement policy in this area. Leveraging the presence of the Bureau's Field Offices across the country, we will aggressively pursue violations wherever we find them.

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