On January 23, 2020, Next Century Cities (NCC) hosted the second annual Opportunities for Bipartisan Tech Policy conference in Washington, DC. Over 180 people attended alongside approximately 140 viewers online. The event brought together Federal Communications Commissioners, local government officials, policy experts, and industry representatives from across the country to discuss technology and telecommunications policy, namely issues related to broadband access. Importantly, the conference provided a platform for NCC to help facilitate conversations and find common ground amongst policy experts with vastly different viewpoints.
Discussions tackled topics such as local solutions for broadband access and adoption, broadband mapping initiatives, making smart cities more accessible for those with disabilities, the importance of community networks, and more. Find the day’s full agenda here.
Local leadership continues to develop digital opportunities for unserved and underserved communities and it was fitting that they played a critical role in conversations throughout the day. Participating communities included Next Century Cities members Ammon, Idaho; Austin, Texas; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Lexington, Ky.; Montgomery County, Md.; and San Antonio, Texas, as well as Detroit, Mich. and the Havasupai Tribe.
“Austin is one of the founding partners of Next Century Cities, and we understand that bringing together city leaders at events like Opportunities for Bipartisan Tech Policy is key for sharing successes and lessons learned,” said Rondella Hawkins, Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs Officer for the city of Austin, Texas. “This time together and collaboration makes us more likely to achieve our goals of high-quality and affordable broadband internet access, which is a necessary infrastructure to transform communities for the betterment of all.”
Federal Communications Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks each sat down with Next Century Cities members to discuss barriers to universal broadband access. Those city and county officials asked the Commissioners questions about the local impact of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policies and discussed ways for federal and local government officials to work together.
“I want to emphasize how optimistic I am about our ability to meet those challenges,” said Commissioner Starks. “I am heartened to see leaders like you working together to bring access to all Americans. If we work together, we can build a future that is more advanced, more secure and more prosperous, and more equitable for all.”
City/county leaders from Ammon, ID and Lexington, KY had a chance to ask FCC Commissioner @JRosenworcel about #broadband policies that impact their communities. That doesn’t happen very often in DC. @NextCentCit #BipartisanTech pic.twitter.com/vyn8cyQGJA
— Francella Ochillo (@FranOchillo) January 23, 2020
“When we live in a digital society where access to reliable, affordable, high-speed connectivity is directly related to educational outcomes, healthcare access, and economic mobility, living up to our promise of expanding digital opportunities is no longer an aspirational goal, it is a moral imperative,” said Next Century Cities’ Executive Director, Francella Ochillo. “Next Century Cities is committed to working towards ubiquitous broadband access. We will continue to elevate the voices of local leaders who are finding ways to expand broadband access in their communities.
“Our Opportunities for Bipartisan Tech Policy event is one part of a larger strategy designed to bring local government leaders, federal policymakers, and other stakeholders together. This conference reflected diverse viewpoints with presenters from vastly different socioeconomic backgrounds and political affiliations. We are grateful to all who attended online and in-person, providing a captive audience for conversations that, hopefully, will continue elsewhere. We are also incredibly thankful to the sponsors and organizational supporters who continue to make our work possible.”
If you attended the event or watched the livestream, please consider filling out our attendee survey here. Your feedback helps us make our events better. Thank you!