Bridging a Digital Divide That Leaves Schoolchildren Behind

The New York Times, 2/22/2017

The federal government is attempting to bridge the growing digital divide in low-income families by expanding a subsidy program, Lifeline, to include broadband Internet access. The Federal Communications Commission’s main goal in revising Lifeline is to address the increasing number of students without online access needed to complete schoolwork and homework. Other methods are being used to in an effort to patch this divide, such as wifi-equipped buses and school-provided wireless hotspots.

Mobile Phone and Satellite Data to Map Poverty

University of Southampton, 2/07/2017

Researchers, led by WorldPop at University of Southampton and Flowminder Foundation, have developed a way to measure poverty levels in Bangladesh. They combine anonymous mobile phone data, such as data usage and distances traveled by the phone’s user, with satellite sensor data such as use of electric lights. They hope to provide more precise data about poverty levels to help governments and relief organizations combat poverty.

Microsoft, Code.org Target Beginner Coders With Minecraft Programme

The Guardian, 12/9/2016

Mojang, Microsoft, and Code.org are teaming up to inspire a new generation of coders. The latest version of Code.org’s Hour of Code is a tutorial that allows beginner coders to create and share their own Minecraft game. Code.org’s goal is to provide “every student in every school…the opportunity to learn computer science” — in this case, through the highly popular Minecraft game.

Stanford Engineers Propose a Technology to Break the Net Neutrality Deadlock

Stanford News, 9/13/2016

The debate over net neutrality has largely focused on whether Internet service providers should allow some content providers to negotiate faster/cheaper access to their content for users. This article describes a prototyped system that would allow users to designate which content they want to special access to. Net neutrality has been seen as a digital divide issue; wide adoption of a user-choice system would change the parameters in that debate.

IoT Early Warning System Helps Save People From Mudslides

Network World, 08/24/2016

This article describes an early warning system for mudslides and flood in rural El Salvador that uses a mesh network of simple devices, within local villagers’ needs and cultural structures. The article can be used to highlight differences between the U.S., where a vast array of technological advances can aid in mitigating disasters, and remote areas of the world where many of the basic technologies involved, such as cell-phone networks, do not exist or are not reliable.