How important is digital literacy in the lives of North Carolina citizens?
It’s critical to our economic development and for opportunities for citizens. One of the things that has hurt us in North Carolina is that not everyone has access to broadband. And after you have access you have to have literacy, and understand what tools are available and how you can utilize education and telehealth and other online resources. So if you’re not online and you don’t have the tools and the knowledge to use it, you’re going to be behind in society. So it’s critical for our society in North Carolina.
What is the purpose of your organizations and what do they do?
The company that I run, Open Broadband — our mission is to build service in underserved communities. So we’re doing just that in various elements of North Carolina. In addition to the company that I run, I have co-founded a couple of non-profits. One is Charlotte Hearts Gigabit, and the other is NC Hearts Gigabit — NC for North Carolina — both of which are advocates for rolling out high-speed internet and education across the state.
What does digital literacy contribute to economic development?
Everything has become technology enabled. I think of it as something that would have been non-technical in days past. Driving a taxi — how technical do you need to be drive a car, right? Not that technical. Well, in today’s world, what do you have? You have Uber and you have Lyft, and you have these online reservation systems. How all that works using the technology to pick up your rides, and then how you adjust prices depending on the need. All those things are technology, and they will help us.
Jamison Ishihara, a summer 2018 intern at Digital Charlotte, conducted this online interview with Alan Fitzpatrick.