Amy Tong is the State Director and Chief Information Officer for the California Department of Technology. She also serves as Chair of the California Broadband Council. She is the go-to person responsible for establishing and implementing state IT strategic plans, policies, and standards. Read below to learn about Tong's thoughts on Digital Inclusion in California.
Why is it important for the state of California to close the Digital Divide?
California has the 5th largest economy, but there are still areas that are without necessities such as access to the Internet. As a citizen of this state, one might assume that basic access to the Internet is a need that met for everybody. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The state government provides services such as health, social services, and emergency communication – basic information that should be made available to everybody in the state, but a lot of people are not able to access those channels through the Internet.
What are some of the major challenges to provide affordable broadband to all Californians?
Number one, the sheer size of our state translates to how many entities are needed to collaborate in order to overcome challenges in initiatives like funding, policy perspective, and priority perspective. As well, our federal government and local entities all have to work together in order to overcome those challenges. Today, a lot of that awareness is being raised by the work of the California Broadband Council and organizations such as the California Emerging Technology Fund, but we need to get to a place where tangible outcomes can build up momentum to push forward.
What role should the State legislature play in this effort?
The Legislature is in a very unique position because they have great access to a lot of information and speak for their constituents by elevating their needs –especially those in areas that are underserved. By elevating the priority at the state level, Legislators can be advocates for their constituents. When it comes to policymaking and bringing partners together, the state is already at the forefront working with entities such as the California Emerging Technology Fund, our federal government, and local officials -- by bringing everybody to the table.
As Chair of the California Broadband Council, what are your top goals to strengthen Digital Inclusion efforts and see that they are completed?
My top three goals to strengthen Digital Inclusion efforts are: promote broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas, ensure public institutions have broadband access, and encourage private and public relationships to support digital literacy. The close collaboration between private and public institutions is critical to ensuring citizens are ready and able to live in the digital age, ultimately, strengthening digital inclusion.
What’s next for the state of California Dept. of Technology?
We’re proud of and confident in the Vision 2020 strategic plan. The plan is simplistic, yet a logical and common-sense approach to how technology strategy in the state of California should be carried out. The plan is in place, the community support is there, there is a good governance model in place, and the current and future governing body will be able to carry the plan forward.