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Blog Posts by Kevin Almasy

3…2…1…EveryoneOn! Connect2Compete and the Ad Council Launch New Digital Literacy Campaign

by Kevin Almasy and Maya Uppaluru, Public Private Initiatives
March 21, 2013 - 11:07 AM

March 21 marks the launch of “EveryoneOn,” a nationwide public education campaign to help all Americans access technology through free digital literacy training, discounted high-speed Internet, and low-cost computers.

In the 21st century workforce, it has never been more important to possess digital skills. Yet, more than 100 million Americans do not have a broadband connection at home, and 62 million do not use the Internet at all. Closing the digital divide is a critical issue for the country, and EveryoneOn is rising to meet the challenge.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “The costs of digital exclusion – of not having access to Internet at home–are rising every day. Offline Americans are missing out on opportunities in education, health care, and employment. I applaud the “EveryoneOn” campaign to onboard the millions of Americans on the wrong side of the digital divide and deliver the digital literacy skills required to succeed in today’s economy.” 

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn also voiced her support for EveryoneOn, stating: “While our nation’s digital divide is indeed shrinking, we must come to terms with the fact that a staggering 62 million Americans remain offline, severely limiting their access to critical information and vital services.  The benefits of connectivity are endless – you literally have the world at your fingertips. That is why I am excited about the potential of EveryoneOn, a new public education campaign powered by Connect2Compete, which meets non-digital natives where they are and encourages them to venture online where their natural skills may be enhanced and their day-to-day needs may be realized more efficiently.”

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Connect2Compete and HUD Team Up to Expand Digital Literacy Across the US

by Kevin Almasy, Public-Private Initiatives
February 19, 2013 - 03:32 PM

Although broadband adoption has increased in recent years, one-third of the country is still without home access. With nearly 80-percent of teachers assigning Internet-based homework, a high-speed connection to complete school assignments is a necessity, not an option. We need to ensure that all Americans can easily access broadband internet in their homes. The gap between families that have home access and those that are beholden to free access points must be closed.

Within the next decade, it’s estimated that nearly 80 percent of jobs will require digital skills. Already, more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies, from Walmart and Target to Best Buy, require online job applications.

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Last Thursday, Chairman Genachowski and Secretary Donovan announced that HUD will join Connect2Compete’s (C2C) digital literacy coalition of libraries, non-profits, and for-profits as a digital literacy outreach partners.  HUD and C2C are currently holding a successful digital literacy training curriculum pilot at HUD sites in Macon, Ga., Cook County, Il., and San Diego, Ca.

HUD serves approximately 4.5 million families across the country. As a coalition member, HUD staff and volunteers will work with public housing authorities, multifamily owners, Native American housing, and other HUD-funded organizations to raise awareness on digital literacy training opportunities and encourage eligible families to register for discounted high-speed Internet and laptops. Chairman Genachowski announced a similar partnership between C2C and the Department of Labor in July.

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FCC and Public-Private Partners Launch Smartphone Security Checker to Help Consumers Protect Mobile Devices This Holiday Season

December 17, 2012 - 03:33 PM

More than 20 million Americans will unwrap a new mobile device this holiday season, but most smartphone users admit they don’t know how to protect themselves from mobile security threats. With mobile cyber attacks increasing every year (threats increased 367% in 2011), it’s important that consumers stay protected against growing risks such as viruses, malicious apps, and mobile device theft.

To assist the more than 120 million American smartphone owners, today the FCC launched the Smartphone Security Checker, an online tool to arm consumers with security steps customized by mobile operating system. The tool is the result of a public-private partnership between government experts, smartphone developers, and private IT and security companies. Partners include DHS, NCSA, FTC, CTIA, Lookout, BlackBerry, Chertoff Group, Sophos, McAfee, Symantec, and others. The smartphone Security Checker is available at www.fcc.gov/smartphone-security.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “With less than half of smartphone owners using passwords to protect their devices, this new tool will be of particular value to millions of Americans. The holiday gift-giving season is a perfect time to remind consumers to take simple steps, like setting a password, to protect themselves from mobile security threats.”

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FCC Releases Small Biz Cyber Planner 2.0 to Empower Small Businesses with Customizable Cybersecurity Plans

by Jordan Usdan, Kevin Almasy, and Maya Uppaluru, Public Private Initiatives
October 17, 2012 - 04:54 PM

Small businesses are more dependent on the Internet than ever before, but 83 percent don’t have a formal cybersecurity plan to protect against cyber threats [1]  As larger companies improve cyber defenses, American small businesses are becoming more vulnerable targets.  According to Symantec, they were subject to hundreds of millions of cyber threats in just the first few months of 2012.[2] A typical cyber-attack that infiltrates a small business can cost, on average, close to $200,000 – enough to put many of them out of business.[3]

This week, the FCC is re-launching the Small Biz Cyber Planner 2.0, an online resource to help small businesses create customized cybersecurity plans. Originally launched in October 2011, it is the result of an unprecedented public-private partnership between government experts and private IT and security companies, including DHS, NCSA, NIST, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The Chertoff Group, Symantec, Sophos, Visa, Microsoft, HP, McAfee, The Identity Theft Council, ADP and others.

The Cyber Planner 2.0 features new details about cyber insurance to mitigate interruptions to business and financial loss from cyber-attacks, best practices on spyware, including how to avoid advanced versions of spyware and what immediate steps to take in case of infection, and recommendations to install new software systems that enable remote cleaning and tracking of laptops and mobile devices in the case of theft.  The FCC is also releasing an updated one page Cybersecurity Tip Sheet. The quick resource features new tips on creating a mobile device action plan and on payment and credit card security.

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Chairman Genachowski Touts Promise of Digital Learning and Applauds National School Speed Test Launch

by Jordan Usdan, Maya Uppaluru, Kevin Almasy, Public Private Initiatives
September 12, 2012 - 04:32 PM

A recent study by the LEAD Commission found that 92% of teachers believe that technology is very important in helping students become more engaged and active participants in their own learning. As access to technology in the classroom becomes a necessity rather than a luxury for our nation’s students, we must do everything we can to ensure that we don’t leave anyone on the wrong side of the digital divide.

This is why Chairman Genachowski applauded today’s launch of the National School Broadband Test at this morning’s “Education Drives America” Bus Tour Kickoff Event at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, CA. The test is being conducted by EducationSuperHighway, an educational non-profit dedicated to ensuring that every K-12 school in America has high capacity (100MB+) Internet.

EducationSuperHighway is asking the nation’s teachers, administrators, and students to take one minute to run a broadband performance test that will automatically post results to a public database. It’s as easy as going to their web site, entering your school name, and hitting “Go”. Those interested in participating in the speed test can go to www.schoolspeedtest.org.

In addition, yesterday at the LEAD Symposium on Technology in Education at Stanford University, the Chairman challenged education technology leaders to work together with government to remove Internet bandwidth as a constraint on education and innovation in our nation’s schools.

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National PC Donation and Recycling Drive to Address the Digital Divide

August 21, 2012 - 02:56 PM

Owning a computer and gaining access to the Internet is not a luxury, but a necessity in today's world. The digital divide is growing as Americans who are "offline" cannot fully participate in the digital economy and are left behind in important areas such as education and health care. Yet, nearly 60% of low-income households do not have a desktop or laptop computer at home and 100 million Americans have not adopted broadband at home.

Americans without a computer or broadband at home often cite the cost of a PC (10%) and/or broadband service (15%) as major barriers to adoption. However, there is an untapped resource of discounted high quality computers that could curb these figures: the millions of corporate PCs that are prematurely retired every year.

Businesses in the United States annually donate about 3% of the 40 million PCs replaced each year. Of these 40 million PC’s, over 12 million are less than a few years old and remain used-but-useful. These PC’s, once refurbished and installed with the latest software, can connect low-income families, schools, and public computing center users to the digital world.

On August 7, Chairman Genachowski and executives from Connect2Compete, Redemtech, and representatives from LULAC announced a nationwide computer donation and recycling call-to-action, called “PC Pledge 100,” to help narrow the digital divide for low-income families across the country.

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