Connected Insights Blog:

Connecting Information to Insight

New Year's: The Perfect Excuse to Brag

Well, it’s the end of the year. 2018 was definitely a mixed bag of a year for a lot of people in the nonprofit world, Ohio, and the country in general. But regardless of the ups and downs, we’ve had a great year here at Connected Insights! We finished our first whole fiscal year in the green, so hey, we feel pretty good about that. Our ROI project with Cuyahoga County is up and running, and the statewide digital inclusion project in Maine is just getting its engines revved. We’re also welcoming some new clients in 2019, including Lorain County School District, Digital C, and Merrick House.

We’re especially excited that our new software DITTO has launched! DITTO is our data baby. It’s an incredibly simple data collection program that helps nonprofits and other organizations collect meaningful numbers and data. While it’s tailored to digital inclusion organizations right now, DITTO is really applicable to any organization looking for concrete ways to show value and results. Volunteers in Cleveland and Maine have been trained on it and the feedback so far has been very positive. We’re looking forward to seeing DITTO in full swing this Spring, and getting our hands on all that awesome data!

The conversation around digital inclusion in this country really took off this year, with several states starting to implement massive inclusion projects and departments. The NDEC Digital Inclusion in Maine should be an exciting one to watch as the results start to come in, because it is the first statewide initiative to attempt such widespread education and implementation. The first wave of the project will focus on jobs skills and digital literacy, but the second wave will tackle a somewhat less talked about digital issue, the coming crisis of rural baby boomers aging. With rural broadband still far behind, and states facing a lack of proper infrastructure to take care of these populations, how to advance telehealth to these rural communities is something we’re going to hear a lot about in 2019.

In Cleveland, the chatter about how to bring our fair city into the digital age has centered this year around the Internet of Things collaboration between CWRU and CSU, so it will be interesting to see how that develops. And of course, we’ll definitely hear more about blockchain at some point. But with the revelation of how terrible the FCC maps have been, and the census looming ahead of us, one of the biggest issues we face as a city, county, and country is making sure that every one of us is counted and has proper representation.

Maybe it’s a cliche sentiment for a data-collection organization to have, but representation is important. The digital world can feel overwhelming, and social media isolating. While it can be easier to stay in our carefully crafted bubbles, a 2019 mantra should be “Look for the ones who are not being counted.” The issue of digital inclusion is often hard for people to grasp in terms of size and scale precisely because so much of their lives are centered online. For those of us on our computers, tablets, and smartphones all day, a world where we live daily without connectivity seems unfathomable, and the people who aren’t immediately in our digital line of sight can disappear, eclipsed by the choir of other causes. We know that lack of digital connectivity causes a laundry list of difficulties for people, from the way their children learn to the jobs they an apply for. We all need to be able to function in an increasingly digital world, and not leave our most vulnerable neighbors behind.

Watching as state by state, local governments start to understand the seriousness of this issue has been thrilling as awareness grows, but there is still a very long way to go. So we’ll see you next year, when it’s back to work for all of us.