Guest post from Erin Mote, Mozilla Gigabit Fund, Adviser on Next-Gen Learning.
In 1956 President Dwight D Eisenhower worked with Congress to create the Federal Highway System, a national network that would transform commerce throughout the United States. Now, goods could get from coast to coast or from city to city with a continuous system of roads – spurring new industries, like trucking, and transforming the way that Americans receive goods and services.
The nationalization of the highway system took a series of disconnected roads and turned it into a cohesive system for the delivery of goods and services, with roads signs and maps on how to navigate this new technology. It transformed the economy, and how entrepreneurs and companies interact with the American consumer. Today, a similar type of transformation is happening in Kansas City. The Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund is activating the innovation economy with real signs of this new technology – the Google fiber gig network – with the navigation needed to help transform business, connected communities and learning once again.
Mozilla’s Gigabit Community Fund provides grants and resources for innovators exploring the use of next-generation gigabit technologies in the gigabit cities of Kansas City and Chattanooga. It funds promising pilot projects developed by educators, students, technologists and entrepreneurs that harness the power of Google Fiber and build capacity for next generation technologies in Kansas City.
Connected cities often lack the knowledge and understanding of just how to enable this new infrastructure to truly transform the way we live, play, educate, explore and do business. It harkens back to the United States’ disconnected roads prior to 1956 – when commerce, and goods and services, moved at a much slower pace, and we simply couldn’t fathom how a new highway system would change everything. It’s not about the novelty of the build – it’s about what the new system is capable of doing. More, better, faster, easier.
While the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund invests in projects that build and develop educational next-gen applications, it also provides the very real and necessary way-finding signs that are critical for the city to successfully unlock the power and promise of gigabit technology.
Just take a peek at the Mozilla Gigabit project at Northland CAPS.
As a high school student, imagine building a tool that attempts to save over 680,000 people a year in the United States, or what equates to every 1 in 4 deaths each year. This tool isn’t a seat belt or a magic pill – it’s a mobile application that tracks patient health for the hundreds of thousands of people every year who die of congestive heart failure (CHF). Tackling this $108.9 billion annual problem, a group of students from Northland CAPS, funded in part by the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund, set out to build, test, and deploy a mobile application that is quite literally lifesaving. The project’s students have spent the fall semester developing a suite of tools in concert with businesses and medical facilities that provide monitoring of critical vital signs and symptoms of patients being released from the hospital with congestive heart failure. By helping to prevent re-admissions to the hospital after CHF diagnoses, the Northland CAPS teams are attempting to prevent the 1 in every 3 people who are re-admitted within 30 days of leaving a health care facility, by providing real-time biometric feedback to physicians and the patients so that they have the data to understand how to combat heart disease.
The Northland CAPS project is just one example of how Mozilla is activating a network of organizations, entrepreneurs, and educators inspired and driven by the work and projects supported by the Gigabit Community Fund. The Fund’s activities are closely tied with building the infrastructure to support continued engagement with the gigabit network through Mozilla’s Hive Learning Network model. Hive Learning Networks, and Hive KC, are built on the principles of connected learning – activating real-life understanding of digital and web literacy to create groundbreaking tools to activate the global web. In Kansas City this global web is a little faster and is being propelled by a new generation of entrepreneurs – whether students or businesses – who are unlocking the power to not just consume the web, but to make the web and their future. And it doesn’t hurt to save a couple hundred thousand lives while harnessing the new gigabit super highway.