Broadband Communities

MAY-JUN 2019

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 9 Technology Access For an Equitable Future of Work Technology helps individuals and local economies adapt to workforce displacement. Equal access to broadband is needed to train workers for the knowledge economy. By Cat Blake / Next Century Cities A utomation isn't a new phenomenon; people have invented technology to make lives easier for centuries. In November 1814, the Times of London became the rst newspaper to use steam-powered printing presses to print 1,100 sheets of newsprint per hour. ‚is technology replaced scribes, accelerated the printing revolution and transformed the nature of communications. Despite the cycle of innovation and automation, new technologies often cause anxiety about exactly how – and by whom – their e†ects will be felt. ‚is worry is not unfounded. A recent report from the Brookings Institution, "Automation and Arti cial Intelligence: How Machines Are A†ecting People and Places," shows that just as economic growth has been distributed unevenly in the United States, so the e†ects of automation will be. Not all jobs are equally threatened by automation. Industries in which tasks are routine face the highest susceptibility to automation: production, food service, transportation, administration, maintenance and construction. ‚is means that smaller, more rural, less educated communities are often more at risk than cities. Brookings found that roughly three-quarters of counties in metro areas have lower average automation exposure than rural counties. Among metro areas, cities with higher average educational attainment face lower automation exposure. As for individuals, Brookings found that men, youth, those with lower educational attainment and racial minorities are most likely to be a†ected by automation. (Consider, for example, that jobs traditionally held by women in the United States are more likely to rely on what we think of as "soft skills" that are harder for technology to replace.) With a few exceptions, such as age and gender, the populations identi ed as most likely to be a†ected by workforce displacement due to automation overlap signi cantly with populations that are least likely to have robust technology access in the United States. Pew Research Center data shows that there are signi cant divides along lines of community geography, educational attainment, income and race when it comes to home broadband use and smartphone ownership. For example, Pew found that 67 percent of urban households used home broadband in 2018, but only 58 percent of rural households used home broadband. And though 85 percent of college graduates used home broadband, only 24 percent of those without a high school degree said the same. HELPING WORKERS UPGRADE SKILLS ‚e overlap in populations more likely to be a†ected by automation with those that have notably low access to or adoption of technology is important because technology is a critical tool in helping individuals and local economies adapt to workforce displacement.

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