Eric Wallace, M.D., the medical director of UAB eMedicine, and Curt Carver Jr., Ph.D., vice president for Information Technology, both at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, were appointed by Governor Kay Ivey to serve on the Broadband Working Group to provide input and guidance on how to allocate funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
Alabama received $1.9 billion from the CARES Act to help mitigate the coronavirus pandemic. The state government divided the funds into 10 categories and appropriated up to $300 million for expenditures related to technology and infrastructure for remote instruction and learning.
“Our state has serious gaps in broadband coverage, and we must do everything possible to ensure as many of our residents and businesses as possible have access to a service that has become a vital part of today’s world, whether through education, business, health care or dozens of other vital areas,” Ivey said. “I am proud to establish this group of esteemed individuals to help us lay the groundwork moving forward.”
Improving access to broadband in Alabama has long been a goal of both Carver and Wallace.
“There are many who do not have access to broadband,” Wallace said. “This is either because they have the means but no broadband infrastructure or they have broadband infrastructure without the means to pay for the service. If we do not rectify this, disparities in health care, commerce and education can and will rapidly worsen. I hope that we as a state can put a plan in place to address immediate needs and ensure we can address health care needs that have emerged due to the COVID pandemic, as well as use the funding to create a broadband infrastructure in Alabama that can position us for a future that relies on connectivity.”
“Network access is the new electricity, and our state’s success is tied to empowering the collective intellect and creativity of everyone in the state through connectivity,” Carver said.
The group will be facilitated by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
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