Friday, January 21News That Matters

Tag: Rural Areas

As Its Population Soars to 40, Rum Isle Glimpses a Future in the Mist

As Its Population Soars to 40, Rum Isle Glimpses a Future in the Mist

Travel
With four new families recently arriving, the remote and rainy island in the Hebrides is experiencing its version of a population surge, although residents new and old concede living here isn’t easy.ISLE OF RUM, Scotland — No doctors. No restaurants. No churches. And worst of all for some: no pubs.Life on a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides is not for everyone.But Alex Mumford, one of the approximately 40 people living on the Isle of Rum, says he loves it, although he admits getting a drink could be an adventure, with the nearest pub on the neighboring island of Skye.“We thought about kayaking across and dropping in for a drink and then kayaking back,” Mr. Mumford said. “But it’s 10 miles over and 10 miles back, so it’s probably not ideal.”Despite all the challenges of making a home h...
Medicare Extends Telehealth Coverage, a Lifeline for Older Americans

Medicare Extends Telehealth Coverage, a Lifeline for Older Americans

Technology
Dr. Frydman discovered that another benefit of telehealth was learning more about her patients’ home environments. One older telehealth patient proudly told her about tending the greenery she noticed behind him. Then, over several months, she saw that his house plants were wilting and dying. “It prompted me to ask about his mood, his energy,” she said, and his answers revealed a previously unsuspected problem.In her palliative care practice at Mount Sinai, Dr. Frydman has found that of course, telehealth has limits. “You sometimes want to see patients walk into the room,” she said. “Has their gait changed? How do they get in and out of a chair?”That’s what soured Marcia Weiser, 83, on telehealth. “It’s better than nothing, but I don’t see that it’s optimal,” said Ms. Weiser, a retired calc...

Satellite Hopes Meet Internet Reality

Technology
This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. Here is a collection of past columns.I cringed a little at the last week of developments in satellite internet technology, a promising but overhyped way to deliver internet service via networks of relatively small satellites. Amazon, Boeing and a bunch of other companies may soon join Elon Musk’s SpaceX in beaming internet service from space.Yes, it is cool. But the companies involved and people excited about satellite internet tend to overstate how much good it can realistically do. There are limits to the technology, and structural barriers to internet access cannot be solved by technology alone.The pandemic has helped focus the attention of many people, companies and governments on making internet access an essential utility like electrici...

The Future Farmers of France Are Tech Savvy, and Want Weekends Off

Business
YVELINES, France — On a century-old farm that’s now a start-up campus in this verdant region west of Paris, computer coders are learning to program crop-harvesting robots. Young urbanites planning vineyards or farms that will be guided by big data are honing their pitches to investors.And in a nearby field on a recent day, students monitored cows equipped with Fitbit-style collars that were tracking their health, before heading to a glassy, open work space in a converted barn (with cappuccino makers) to hunch over laptops, studying profitable techniques to reverse climate change through farming.The group was part of an unorthodox new agricultural business venture called Hectar. Most of them had never spent time around cows, let alone near fields of organic arugula.But a crisis is bearing d...
Friday Night Footlights: How Theater Bonds a Colorado Town

Friday Night Footlights: How Theater Bonds a Colorado Town

LifeStyle
These days, a permanent staff of eight balloons to an average of 90 contracted employees and artists from April to September. Each summer Creede Rep stages five full productions (revivals and a fair share of premieres) in its two venues, along with a kids program, cabaret, improv and staged readings of new plays.The theater, which uses Equity actors for its main productions, has an annual budget of $1.3 million, sells over 25,000 tickets per season and brings programming to 37,000 students, most of them via outreach tours in rural and underserved communities in the Southwest.It is financially a heavyweight, both as an employer and as a contributor to the tax base. But it is also an emotional anchor whose absence was deeply felt in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic shut things down.“Witho...
A Fading Coal County Bets on Schools, but There’s One Big Hitch

A Fading Coal County Bets on Schools, but There’s One Big Hitch

Business
“I hear it from kids all the time: I want to get out of here,” said Kristin Johnson, a 24-year-old middle school teacher at Mount View who lives in Princeton, W.Va., about an hour’s drive away, and is itching for a teacher job to open there. “Those who do get an education know they can make more money somewhere else.”Ms. Keys returned, in part, out of loyalty. “When I was in high school, we started losing a lot of teachers,” she said. “People feared there would be nobody there to take those jobs.” But a stable teaching job, as well as free housing at her grandmother’s old house, played into her calculations.This may not be enough to hold her, though. Even dating locally is complicated. Her boyfriend lives over an hour away, outside Beckley. “There is nobody here that is appealing,” Ms. Key...
A Rural-Urban Broadband Divide, but Not the One You Think Of

A Rural-Urban Broadband Divide, but Not the One You Think Of

Technology
Whom should the government help get superfast internet access?The question is not addressed directly in President Biden’s multibillion-dollar infrastructure plan, which devotes tens of billions of dollars to expanding access to broadband but does not provide much detail about how the money will be spent.But veterans of the nation’s decade-long efforts to extend the nation’s broadband footprint worry that the new plan carries the same bias of its predecessors: Billions will be spent to extend the internet infrastructure to the farthest reaches of rural America, where few people live, and little will be devoted to connecting millions of urban families who live in areas with high-speed service that they cannot afford.“From an economic and society perspective, the most important thing to do is...
Rural Areas Are Looking for Workers. They Need Broadband to Get Them.

Rural Areas Are Looking for Workers. They Need Broadband to Get Them.

Technology
As a manufacturer of asphalt paving equipment, Weiler is exactly the type of company poised to benefit if the federal government increases spending on roads and bridges. But when Patrick Weiler talks about infrastructure, the issue he brings up first has next to nothing to do with his company’s core business.It’s broadband internet service.Weiler is based in Marion County, Iowa, a rural area southeast of Des Moines. Internet speeds are fine at the company’s 400,000-square-foot factory, because Weiler paid to have a fiber-optic cable run from the nearby highway. But that doesn’t help the surrounding community, where broadband access can be spotty at best. That is a problem for recruitment — already one of the biggest challenges for Weiler and many other rural employers.“How do you get young...
Low-income households can now apply for a $50 monthly discount for internet.

Low-income households can now apply for a $50 monthly discount for internet.

Technology
Millions of low-income Americans became eligible on Wednesday for an emergency discount on high-speed internet service and devices to get online, an effort aimed at providing relief to families that have struggled during the pandemic as school, work and health care have moved online.The Federal Communications Commission’s subsidy program, the Emergency Broadband Benefit, can be used for $50 monthly discounts for individuals on SNAP or Medicaid, recipients of Pell grants, and families with children on free and reduced-price lunch plans. Low-income households on tribal lands can apply for $75 in monthly broadband subsidies. The program also allows for a one-time $100 subsidy for a laptop or tablet.The F.C.C. said 825 broadband providers have agreed to offer the discounts.The program, which C...
That Spotty Wi-Fi? There’s $100 Billion to Fix It.

That Spotty Wi-Fi? There’s $100 Billion to Fix It.

Business
WASHINGTON — Kimberly Vasquez, a high school senior in Baltimore, faced a tough problem when the pandemic began. She had no fast internet service in her home, but all her classes were online.Marigold Lewi, a sophomore at the same school, was regularly booted off Zoom classes because of her slow home connection.Ms. Lewi spent a lot of time explaining Zoom absences to teachers. Ms. Vasquez sat outside local libraries to use their internet access and at times used her phone. The two of them helped push a successful public campaign for better and free service to low-income families in the city.“It was very chaotic,” Ms. Vasquez said. “We had to do this because no one else was going to change things.”A year after the pandemic turned the nation’s digital divide into an education emergency, Presi...