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Fostering Investment and Innovation in Smart Cities and the Internet of Things (IoT)

February 25, 2016 by

This blog was cross posted on Commerce.gov.

Internet of Things (IOT) LogoThe Internet of Things (IoT) – which involves connecting physical objects to the Internet – has the potential to transform our lives and society. Cities around the world are harnessing the power of these new digital tools to build “Smart Cities.” Local governments are deploying low-cost sensors to improve access to public services and collect data to better understand the needs of the populations they serve. At the same time, manufacturers are using sensors to optimize equipment maintenance and protect the safety of workers, and consumers are upgrading their homes with smart appliances, such as connected thermostats and refrigerators that tweet.

The benefits of increased connectivity will be many: reduced congestion and fewer traffic accidents, remote patient monitoring and improved healthcare, and applications for emergency services, connected cars, and smart energy grids – to name just a few. Yet, we are hearing from innovators and the business community that a growing global patchwork of regulation threatens to increase costs and delay the launch of new products and services. That, in turn, could dampen investment.

Broadband Key to Smart Cities

February 23, 2016 by NTIA

This blog was cross posted on Commerce.gov.

Broadband Key to Smart CitiesWhile the Internet has transformed everything from how we search for a job to how we communicate with friends and family, cities are looking to utilize digital technology to address stubborn challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, promoting economic development, and making local governments more accessible and efficient. To support such efforts, the Obama Administration this fall launched a new “Smart Cities” initiative and called for investing $160 million in federal research to help communities address 21st century challenges and support such initiatives as smart transportation systems that could adjust traffic management in real time or support expanded use of smart grid technology to better monitor peak energy usage.

Why Sharing is the Answer to Rising Demand for Spectrum

February 12, 2016 by Paige R. Atkins, Associate Administrator of the Office of Spectrum Management

Last week, I spoke at the 5th Annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference in Washington, D.C.  It was a valuable opportunity to talk about NTIA’s approach to spectrum policy and our efforts to meet the growing need for spectrum of both industry and federal agencies.

The wireless industry has fueled tremendous innovation and economic growth with its use of spectrum. To maintain the growth of wireless broadband services, industry requires more and more spectrum. At the same time, critical missions performed by federal agencies – from predicting deadly storms to exploring space -- are requiring systems of greater complexity. The result: There is more demand for this finite resource than ever before.

It is clear that we can’t meet the challenges that arise from this increased demand by using the traditional methods of spectrum reallocation, which often take too long and cost too much money. Innovation in spectrum use must be met with innovation in spectrum allocation. The answer is spectrum sharing, a flexible and evolving option that is helping to optimize this resource to the benefit of both the public and private sectors.

Sharing offers increased access to both federal and non-federal users. It’s also more flexible and efficient than the typical process of relocating federal operations. And it’s an improving science – researchers at the Center for Advanced Communications (CAC) in Boulder, Colo., are focused on cutting-edge spectrum sharing research and development, experimentation and testing.

Data Preview: What's New in the July 2015 CPS Computer and Internet Use Supplement

January 13, 2016 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

In July 2015, NTIA commissioned the Census Bureau to conduct the latest Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS). NTIA uses this survey to help understand why, where, and how Americans use the Internet, as well as what barriers stand in the way of effective Internet use.

We are awaiting the results of the latest survey, which has been significantly redesigned to fit the changing technological landscape.  NTIA has developed a more person-centric survey instrument, as opposed to household-centric questioning, that gathers data on the range of devices people use, the places they are used, and how they are used.

We increased the flexibility of the survey instrument by making it easier to add device, location, and online activity categories while preserving our ability to track changes over time. We’re taking advantage of the new structure by asking Americans about wearable devices for the first time, as well as whether they use the Internet to interact with household equipment, like a connected thermostat or security system.

We also reserved space in the survey to ask questions about policy issues. In 2015, we gathered data on privacy and security by asking how frequently households have been affected by data breaches, whether privacy or security concerns have hampered online activities, and what people are most worried about when it comes to online privacy and security risks.

Spotlight on NTIA: Jennifer Duane, Senior Advisor for Broadband and Public Safety, Office of the Assistant Secretary

January 06, 2016 by NTIA

This post is part of our “Spotlight on NTIA” blog series, which is highlighting the work that NTIA employees are doing to advance NTIA’s mission of promoting broadband adoption, finding spectrum to meet the growing demand for wireless technologies, and ensuring the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.

Picture of Jennifer DuaneJennifer Duane says the best thing about working at NTIA is that there is never a “typical day.”

She appreciates the fast pace, the breadth of issues and the depth of the challenges NTIA is addressing.

“It never seems like there’s a dull moment,” she says.

Duane came to NTIA in 2009 to help implement the Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP), which funded grants to expand broadband access and adoption. She moved to the Office of the Chief Counsel after a year and a half, continuing her work on BTOP legal issues. In 2012, she was named a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary, where she added duties related to NTIA’s oversight of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and other public safety efforts.

Bringing Broadband to Silverton

January 05, 2016 by NTIA

The 67 students at Silverton School, nestled in the mountains of Colorado’s San Juan County, are returning from winter break to an abundance of new educational resources.

Group photo of students at Silverton School
The students of Silverton School
(click to enlarge)

Thanks to a grant from NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), Silverton School is now linked to a high-speed fiber-optic network that will deliver broadband speeds of 100 megabits per second to the small K-12 institution.

The new connection is an important milestone for EAGLE-NET Alliance, a Colorado intergovernmental entity that is leveraging federal funding to supply broadband to schools, libraries, government facilities and other anchor institutions across the state. And it is a big victory for local stakeholders, including Silverton Public Schools and San Juan County’s Board of County Commissioners.

Silverton – with a winter population of between 400 and 500 and a summer population that can reach 1,000 - is the last county seat in Colorado to connect to a fiber-optic system. With EAGLE-NET Alliance now bringing 20 gigabits of bandwidth into the community, Silverton hopes last-mile broadband providers will be able to hook up local businesses and homes in 2016.

Updating the Spectrum Relocation Fund to Enable Innovation, Flexibility in Spectrum Use

December 17, 2015 by Paige R. Atkins, Associate Administrator of the Office of Spectrum Management

Since its creation in 2004, the Spectrum Relocation Fund (SRF) has served as an important tool supporting federal agency efforts to make more spectrum available for commercial use. The fund reimburses agencies for some of the costs they incur for repurposing the spectrum they use in performing critical missions on behalf of the American people, opening the door to commercial access to the spectrum.

Modifying agency communications systems to use a different spectrum band or perhaps share spectrum with commercial providers can be exceedingly costly, and agencies typically do not have adequate budgets to cover all the costs associated with such efforts. Congress created the SRF to help defray the costs associated with spectrum relocation or sharing. It supports the efforts of federal agencies as they work to help meet the President’s goal of identifying 500 megahertz of additional federal and non-federal spectrum for wireless broadband services, both licensed and unlicensed, by 2020.

Majority of Americans Use Multiple Internet-connected Devices, Data Shows

December 07, 2015 by Giulia McHenry, Chief Economist, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

For many Americans, the days of connecting to the Internet solely through a stationary desktop computer are over. Going online now means shopping on a tablet, using a PlayStation to watch movies, or checking email on a smartphone.

In just a two-year span, between 2011 and 2013, Americans significantly shifted their Internet usage habits, moving toward more mobile Internet use and increasing the range of devices they use to connect, according to data collected in July 2013 as part of NTIA’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. A majority of Americans — 52 percent — used two or more Internet-connected devices, the data shows. That’s up from 41 percent in July 2011. Americans are using a wide variety of devices to access the Internet, including tablets, laptops, mobile phones, and TV-connected boxes such as gaming consoles or streaming video players.

California Broadband Workshop Shows Work Still Needed to Close Digital Divide

November 25, 2015 by NTIA

Even at the epicenter of the high-tech revolution, there are digital haves and have-nots.

NTIA hosted a broadband workshop last week at the Computer History Museum in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. And the take-away was this: the state that gave us semiconductor chips, Internet search engines and smartphones faces the same digital divide challenges as the rest of the nation.

The Bay Area may be home to technology giants such as Intel, Google and Apple. But in the remote reaches of rural Humboldt County, there are tribal lands that still lack basic communications infrastructure. And in the desert towns of the Coachella Valley, there are students who can’t get online to do homework since there is no Internet access in the mobile home communities where they live.

Language and Citizenship May Contribute to Low Internet Use Among Hispanics

November 17, 2015 by John B. Morris, Associate Administrator of the Office Policy Analysis and Development

NTIA has long noted disparities in Internet use based on race and ethnicity, among other demographics. While the United States has made great strides in recent years to close the digital divide, the latest NTIA data on Internet and computer use suggest that gaps remain among certain groups.

While 75.4 percent of White non-Hispanics, 75.3 percent of Asian American non-Hispanics, and 64 percent of African American non-Hispanics reported using the Internet in 2013, only 61 percent of Hispanics were online. Historically, Hispanics have had lower levels of Internet use than their peers, and while the gap has narrowed to some extent, Hispanics consistently reported the lowest levels of Internet use of any racial or ethnic group. According to Census Bureau estimates, the Hispanic population is young and growing quickly, underscoring the need to address digital inclusion challenges. The Hispanic population has grown from 14.5 million in 1980 to 55.4 million as of 2014. And the median age among Hispanics in 2014 was 29—14 years younger than non-Hispanic Whites and four years younger than African Americans. Language barriers and citizenship considerations may be associated with differing levels of Internet use and help explain this dimension of the digital divide.

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