Leaders from across Tennessee assembled in downtown Nashville Wednesday to share and learn about broadband best practices, discuss strategies to address remaining barriers to broadband access, adoption, and use, and to network with other leaders working to bridge the digital divide.
The Summit brought more than 150 attendees to the Nashville Public Library on Church Street for a day-long event with informative sessions, special presentations, and Metro Nashville Public Schools announcing a spring summit dedicated to technology in education, in partnership with Connected Tennessee.
Connected Tennessee Executive Director Corey Johns opened the day with a presentation on the history of the organization, the future ahead, and the goal of the Summit.
“It was exciting to be able to spotlight so many of the broadband best practices across the state and to hear from experts representing various sectors about how broadband is impacting and improving every aspect of our lives and communities,” he said. “Whether it was economic development, education, healthcare, public safety, or beyond, the importance and opportunities enabled through broadband were certainly showcased today and we want to thank our many partners who helped make the Summit such a great event.”
Several regional leaders and experts facilitated eight breakout sessions focusing on the implementation of broadband in sectors such as public safety, education, healthcare, economic development, and in rural communities. Moderators and panelists included Assistant Commissioner David Purkey, Tennessee Department of Homeland Security and Safety, Dr. Kecia Campbell-Ray, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and the Martin Professional Development Center, Leigh Sterling, executive director of the East Tennessee Heath Information Network, Liza Massey, president and CEO of the Nashville Technology Council, and Ted Townsend, assistant commissioner for Strategy with the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development.
"The opportunity here with this particular conference is excellent to get the decision makers in the smaller communities to come and see what the potential is; and with the success stories, say ‘here is how we do it,’ use it as a model to implement in their own community, and have the support from the state to be able to do that,” said Stephen Meyer of Excalibur Integrated Systems, Inc.
A short documentary about Connected Tennessee’s Computers 4 Kids (C4K) program was shown and Joshua Grubb, former C4K participant, provided attendees with insight on the impact the program has had on his life. Connor Dixon, also a former C4K participant and Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year, spoke about the significance the computer and printer donations have in the clubs.
The Broadband Hero Awards were presented to three organizations for their contributions in the areas of broadband access, adoption, and use:
The Broadband Hero Award for Access was received by Dave Aguzzi on behalf of Tennessee’s Department of Children Services for its efforts to increase broadband access for Tennessee foster youth through individual laptop donations.
The Broadband Hero Award for Adoption was given to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tennessee, and accepted by Dan Jernigan, president and CEO of the Middle Tennessee Clubs, for enabling digital literacy training and online learning programs to the youth they serve.
The Broadband Hero Award for Use was presented to Michael Dumont and Tatiana Sankey of VisionPerry for its successes in providing computer training and job placement for unemployed and underemployed citizens in rural Tennessee communities.
Michael Ramage, associate director of the Center for Telecommunications Systems Management at Murray State University, was also honored as the first-ever inductee into the Connected Tennessee Broadband Hall of Fame. Prior to his return to academia last year, Ramage led Tennessee’s state broadband initiative as the first executive director of Connected Tennessee from 2007-2012.
“This is Tennessee’s first state broadband summit. We are excited about the momentum and certainly look forward to the prospect of carrying that momentum to create a bigger and better event again next year,” said Mr. Johns.
Photo highlights, presenter slides, and other Summit materials can be found in the Summit section of the Connected Tennessee website at www.connectedtn.org/broadband-summit
Connected Tennessee also unveiled the results of the 2012 Residential Technology Assessment; its annual survey of technology trends in homes. The findings show that broadband adoption continues to rise in the state, but 1.5 million Tennessee adults remain offline. The results are posted in an interactive tool on Connected Tennessee's website.