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Mobile Connectivity Key To More Reliable Emergency Communications

mudslide

By Mike Montgomery

Today, the overwhelming majority of Americans own a mobile phone (95%), with three-quarters of us owning smartphones. Whether we’re ordering dinner or a ride home, apps on our phones always seem to know our location. It is a common misconception, however, that because apps like Lyft and Postmates know where we are, that in emergency situations, first responders will also be able to find us.

The truth is far more complicated. Our apps know where we are because of opt-in location services on our devices. Ride sharing services, for example, use GPS, cellular and Wi-Fi access points to pinpoint your location. But when calling 911 from your cell phone, the emergency operator will more than likely not know your exact location because the only information your phone transmits to the operator is the Caller ID and location of the nearest cell tower that is connecting the call. It is mind-boggling to think that more often than not, your pizza delivery person has more accurate location information than the paramedics – especially when you consider the fact that upwards of 80% of 911 calls originate from a mobile device.

Additionally, mobile communication plays a huge role in disaster mitigation. Mobile alerts are used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing persons, natural disasters and other critical situations – an absolute necessity as more than 50% of households have abandoned their landline. Even the FCC has called wireless emergency alerts “an essential part of America’s emergency preparedness”.

Most municipalities have systems in place to alert residents of pending danger but often these systems require residents to know they exists (hint: many do not) and opt-in. And sometimes these systems fail – alerts come too late, or not at all. That’s what happened in Santa Barbara in January when mudslides wiped out hundreds of homes and killed at least 20 people. Residents in the evacuation areas said they never saw the mobile alerts. The state experienced similar problems late last year when trying to alert people to evacuate from massive fires in Santa Barbara and Napa Valley.

There is no denying the direct correlation between public safety and connectivity. As such, we must ensure that our communities always have access to the best available communications tools.

So, where do we start? The answer, infrastructure.

Upgrading our wireless infrastructure – specifically deploying a robust network of densification devices know as small cells – is key to ensuring present and future connectivity. Right now, our devices are mostly connected by large towers or macro antennas spread miles apart.

Small cells, on the other hand, are small antennas or nodes, affixed to existing infrastructure in close proximity to one another. The lack of distance between nodes is one of the factors that allows for the increased wireless coverage and capacity.

A robust small cell network makes for a more resilient and reliable network, which will ultimately allow for 911 operators to get a better read on where a person is located and ensure that mobile alerts are pushed out in an effective and timely manner.

Further, building out a permanent network of small cells across the country will not only help ensure our safety today, but will also serve as the backbone for future 5G networks that will redefine what we think of as being “connected”.

There’s no question that we must find better ways to utilize mobile technology to ensure people can find safety during an emergency, whether that means calling 911 or evacuating before a natural disaster. The devices we all carry in our pockets have the potential to save our lives, and it would be irresponsible of us to not take full advantage of the technology right at our fingertips.

A Second Chance At Net Neutrality

“The recent crisis over Facebook and Cambridge Analytica has completely flipped the script in Washington and the demand for comprehensive action to regulate the Big Tech giants creates a rare second chance for Congress to get the issue of internet regulation right,” writes Mike Montgomery in The Houston Chronicle. “Congress doesn’t often get a second chance on major policy issues. But it has one now on net neutrality.”

Read his full column here.

It’s Time For Comprehensive Internet Regulations

“Momentum is building on the Hill to pass a law to govern how companies like Facebook protect and use our data,” writes Mike Montgomery for Morning Consult. “And while it’s important that internet companies — which must be able to adapt quickly to reflect the fluidity of the internet landscape — not be overregulated, there’s a growing need for some sort of comprehensive internet policy framework that addresses privacy.”

Read the rest of Montgomery’s stance here.

 

To Stay Globally Competitive, The U.S. Needs To Embrace 5G

By Kish Rajan

Walk down the street in any American city and it’s easy to see that we are already deep into the wireless age. Ninety-five percent of Americans now own a cellphone, and we are using our devices not only to communicate but to watch videos, order cars, handle banking and much more.

But we are only beginning to understand what will become of our insatiable appetite for next-generation connectivity. In the past two years alone, data traffic has increased 238%. With the advent of the internet of things (IoT) – which will connect cars, household appliances and even pets – that data usage is going to grow exponentially.

In order to handle this traffic, America must get ahead of the curve by upgrading our network to 5G. The state-of-the-art 5G wireless network promises to handle 100 times more capacity and move data 10 times faster than the current 4G LTE network most prevalent in the U.S.

However, according to a recent study, America is lagging behind both China and South Korea when it comes to 5G deployment – which is a potential big problem for our country.

Why? Well, there’s more at stake here than just lightning-fast video downloads. 5G will create enormous economic growth. Accenture estimates that 5G could lead to $275 billion in investments, 3 million new jobs and $500 billion in GDP growth. Faster wireless networks will position us to see incredible innovation in smart-cities technology, healthcare and education.

To date, the U.S. has been the global leader in innovation – in large part due to our leadership in the wireless space – but there’s a real risk America will lose our position to China and South Korea if we lose the race to 5G.

The economic benefit of leading the move to the next level of network speed and capacity is not fiction. History shows that 5G will provide tremendous economic benefit. America led the way on 4G technology, resulting in $100 billion in economic impact. We took that lead position from the European Union, which had been ahead of the game on 2G. Losing that front-runner status led to job losses and contractions in the telecom hardware and software industries in Europe.

We can’t afford to have the same thing happen in the U.S.

Bringing 5G technology, and all of its benefits, to market requires the deployment of new infrastructure, namely a new network of small wireless nodes called “small cells.” Small cells are about the size of a pizza-box and are most commonly attached to existing infrastructure, such as utility poles and streetlights. In order to lay the foundation for 5G, we will need small cells deployed in mass to optimize the strength and reach of the coverage.

To roll out these new networks, municipalities and states must be forward-thinking. We can’t just default to the regulations established in the past that slow the deployment of small cells. We must rethink regulations to allow for 5G networks to spring up all over the country so every community can benefit.

If not, there’s a real risk we will not only fall behind China and South Korea, but that within the U.S., we will be creating a new type of digital divide.

Cities such as Sacramento and Long Beach in California are aggressively moving forward with 5G. Officials in Long Beach hope that the new network will help bridge the city’s digital divide and attract new businesses. These emerging cities may find themselves attracting the Googles and Amazons of tomorrow as larger cities drag their feet on 5G.

While that might be good for some, it would be better for entrepreneurs everywhere to have access to the 5G network. If we don’t put ourselves in a position to lead on 5G, we could feel the effects in the not-too-distant future.

Why The Congressional Review Act Is A Complete Charade

“Nearly every day brings new stories of children being tracked, Russians being indicted, and online-fueled hate exploding into real-world violence – all while the big tech platforms that enable this chaos report record earnings and shrug off Congressional oversight without breaking a sweat,” writes Mike Montgomery for Multichannel News. “The American people are demanding comprehensive action to rein in these giant platforms, protect our privacy and permanently keep cyberspace open and free – with 80% believing the big platforms haven’t done enough to secure their networks. Nearly 60% are concerned the government won’t do enough to solve the problem. Yet, amazingly, the only internet bill on the agenda in Congress is a backward-looking resolution that will actually reduce our privacy protections.”

Here’s why Montgomery calls the Congressional Review Act, which is being billed as a net neutrality-protection measure, “a complete charade.”

 

Why California’s Only Internet Regulation Is An Empty Promise

Zucker Punch

“At the root of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the company used data from 87 million Facebook users in an effort to deviously manipulate voters, was broken promises,” writes Mike Montgomery in the Mercury News. “Facebook was promised by the original collector that the data was to be used only for ‘academic research.’  It wasn’t.  The collector promised not to sell or share the data with third parties.  It didn’t.  When confronted, the parties promised to destroy the data.  They did no such thing.”

He continues:

Promises are like that. They don’t always deliver the goods.

That’s why Californians must be skeptical of the promises from backers of a ballot measure that appears headed for the November ballot. They have given their proposal the apple-pie name of the “Consumer Right to Privacy Act,” and are promising that its enactment would improve the lives of Californians.

Let us do what Facebook didn’t, and seriously examine the validity of that promise.

Read Montgomery’s examination here.

We Oppose AB 2212 California Retail Food Code

April 17, 2018

The Honorable Jim Wood, Chair
Assembly Committee on Health
California State Capitol, Room 6005
Sacramento, CA 95814

Subject: AB 2212 California Retail Food Code – OPPOSE

Dear Chairperson Wood,

We write to express our concerns regarding AB 2212 (Ting) as it seeks to amend Section 113985 of the Health and Safety Code and add subscriptions-based meal delivery services to the existing definition of “retail;” a change that would include food processors that sell direct to consumers. We would note the language in AB 2212 is the exact same language approach used last year in AB 1461, which Governor Brown vetoed just six months ago.

As a technology advocacy organization, we seek to support California’s advancement as a state where innovative ideas blossom into new industries, companies and jobs while maintaining well-crafted rules and regulations to protect the public.

California’s food processing industry is evolving rapidly to keep pace with consumer demand and competition in the marketplace. Applying regulations as outlined in AB 1461 and mirrored in AB 2212 will inhibit this industry from modernizing and maintaining a competitive advantage with other agriculture states. AB 2212 will only encourage food processors to locate their facilities outside our state and ship to California customers from places like Nevada and Texas. Additionally, the language in AB 2212 will not only directly impact California-based food processors currently package foods for this intended purpose, it has the potential to impact all food processors and stifle their ability to expand their business model to include direct-to-consumer services.

AB 2212 is not necessary as food processors and manufacturers are already heavily regulated by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) as they often distribute food throughout the contiguous United States (including those that do so via subscription and provide recipes).

In contrast, the Food Handler Card program is a retail requirement enforced by local public health officers on the county level. It makes little sense, and would be impossible, for one food processor to be subject to the oversight of California’s 58 different local health

agencies, especially given that they are already required to comply with stricter food- safety and training standards enforced by CDPH and FDA.

Governor Brown recognized this in his veto message of AB 1461 last year where he encouraged the Legislature to work with the Department of Public Health and interested stakeholders to ensure food safety is protected and innovation is encouraged.

CALinnovates is fundamentally opposed to AB 2212 as it stifles innovation by adding excessive and unwarranted regulation to food processors that sell direct to consumers. We respectfully urge the Assembly Committee on Health to oppose AB 2212.

Sincerely,

Kish Rajan
Chief Evangelist

CC:
Assembly Member Mayes (Vice Chair)
Assembly Member Aguiar-Curry
Assembly Member Bigelow
Assembly Member Bonta
Assembly Member Burke
Assembly Member Carillo
Assembly Member Flora
Assembly Member Limon
Assembly Member McCarty
Assembly Member Nazarian
Assembly  Member Rodriguez
Assembly Member Santiago
Assembly Member Thurmond
Assembly Member Waldron

 

Unblocking 5G: New FCC Rules Make it Easier to Build Fast Networks

“The Federal Communications Commission last week voted to kick-start 5G wireless networks in the United States by exempting them from some reviews that hinder installation,” writes CALinnovates’ Kish Rajan. “It’s about time.”

He continues:

So far, the U.S. lags far behind the world leader — China — at getting 5G networks up and running. “There is a worldwide race to lead in 5G, and other nations are poised to win,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel acknowledged in January. It’s an embarrassing place for the country that invented the internet. But more than that, our hesitancy to streamline the process for installing vital infrastructure is costing us money, jobs and security.

Read the rest of Rajan’s stance on this issue here.

CALinnovates Statement on 5G Access

A statement from CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery:

“In today’s booming digital economy, fast and reliable internet connectivity is an absolute necessity, as nearly every industry job depends on it. Keeping up with the global sprint to 5G will mean the difference between U.S. innovation surging or falling behind. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr’s common-sense approach to removing regulatory roadblocks will promote 5G access for every American. It’s about time.”

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