Thursday, May 19th 2022 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm
If these past two years have proved anything, it’s that having reliable access to the internet is a necessity. And yet access to the internet is far from assured in many homes across the country.
For this and so many other reasons, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed last November includes a directive to “ensure that all people of the United States benefit from equal access” to broadband. Under the aegis of the FCC, the real work begins: how do we define digital discrimination? How can we address it in all of its forms, from bias in search engine results to access to the internet in the first place?
This panel discussion, moderated by Davis Erin Anderson, METRO's Director of Programs and Partnerships, addresses these questions and more.
About our panelists:
Dr. Jon Gant is a leader in higher education who helps to make information and digital technologies accessible for everyone. Jon has published numerous research studies on the disparities in broadband adoption, the future of work and information technology, and advances in digital government. Most recently, Jon’s research and public engagement improves digital equity and inclusion in urban and rural communities worldwide particularly to support human development and achievement, democratic engagement, and the transformation of communities and community anchor institutions.
Jon currently serves as professor and dean of the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina Central University. With the critical need for community anchor institutions including libraries to address the digital divide and barriers to information in our society, this 80-year-old school is the only accredited graduate program in the field offered by a historically Black college and university. Jon has helped to double its enrollment to over 330 graduate students. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Carnegie Mellon University where he trained in public policy, information systems, and strategy. Jon earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan. He has held faculty positions previously at the University of Illinois, Syracuse University, and Indiana University.
Jon served as the founding director of the Center for Digital Inclusion (CDI) at the School of Information at the University of Illinois. While leading CDI, Jon served as a senior executive to deploy a broadband network and start up and spin-off UC2B-fiber, an internet service provider (ISP). Jon and his team helped underserved households located in internet deserts in Champaign-Urbana, IL connect to state-of-the-art highspeed internet services and enjoy real-time interactive applications on the newly deployed network for the first time. Jon and his colleagues developed technical assistance models to help community anchor institutions worldwide scale up digital literacy training to over 17,000 people. Jon also served as the Research Director of the evaluation study of the federal Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP).
Working with a team from the University of North Carolina Nutrition Obesity Research Center, Jon is co-principal investigator for a grant related to the All of Us national research program from the National Institutes of Health to develop approaches for precision health and ways to bridge the digital divide to improve participant engagement.
Jon has utilized this experience to serve on several advisory boards to make recommendations to the National Science Foundation, Federal Communication Commission, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to address the digital divide and broadband adoption. He is a member of the 2019-2021 Kettering Foundation Whisenton Fellows class. Jon used his fellowship to study new approaches in democratic engagement to help universities work in their communities to address digital equity disparities. Jon served on the Board of Directors for the Telecommunication Policy Research Conference (TPRC) on communications, information, and internet policy. Governor Cooper appointed Jon to serve on the Public Library Credentialing Commission for the State of North Carolina. In January, Jon was appointed to the Federal Communication Commission Communications Equity and Diversity Council as an independent subject matter expert and co-chairs the Digital Discrimination Working Group. Jon was also appointed in December 2021 to the National Issues Forums Institute as a member of its Board of Directors.
Dr. Colin Rhinesmith (he/him) is the Founder and Director of the Digital Equity Research Center at the Metropolitan New York Library Council and a Senior Fellow at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. He is also a Co-Editor-In-Chief of The Journal of Community Informatics.
Previously, Rhinesmith was an Associate Professor in the School of Library and Information Science and the Provost’s Faculty Fellow for Scholarship and Research at Simmons University. He has been a Google Policy Fellow and an Adjunct Research Fellow with New America’s Open Technology Institute in Washington, D.C. and a Faculty Associate with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Rhinesmith received his Ph.D. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was a U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services Information in Society Fellow, a Researcher with the Center for People and Infrastructures, and a Research Scholar with the Center for Digital Inclusion.