October Infrastructure: Wastewater, privacy and what’s on the horizon

You can stop feeling taxed now.

If you haven’t already heard, the “tech tax” was repealed retroactively. People who collected the tax can find instructions for returning it on the Department of Revenue website

The legislation produced some unexpected and positive bi-products. As a result of our efforts to stop and then repeal the tax, the Tech Council is now part of SPARK Coalition, whose mission is “To protect the interests of small business technology providers through mass mobilization.” The SPARK Coalition will remain in place to monitor legislation going forward, so the next time something comes up we will not be blindsided.

The process also highlighted one of the values of membership in the Tech Council. As a group, we gave voice to the concerns of our membership.

By Board approval, one of our members has been appointed to attend Wastewater Collaborative meetings at the Cape Cod Commission.

The Commission is running a series of meetings of Wastewater Stakeholders. There are 11 regional subgroups, with 10 to 20 stakeholders in each group. Upcoming meetings, which are held in each of the 11 regions, are about technology (October) and different types of planning scenarios (December). If you are interested in becoming a stakeholder, go the Cape Cod Commission’s watershed website for more information.

Also on the wastewater front, the second round of Cape-2-O starts October 21. In addition to the people who participated in the first round, the Commission is targeting 8-10th grade students. Cape-2-O is a natural fit for science curricula, but it cuts across all subjects (especially civics). Have you played yet? You’ll find several Tech Council members are signed up (some of whom are begging to be challenged).

News from the wonderful world of broadband: Comcast is carrying out its submarine project to Martha’s Vineyard this month, working with NSTAR to bring fiber to Tisbury.

We also continued the conversation on issues related to technology and privacy (or lack thereof). Our December First Friday panel is coming together, with representatives speaking from three different fields.

For further reading, the ACLU has a privacy project – focused not only on global issues (corporations, NSA etc) but also real world advice for “if you are online, here’s how you can protect your privacy.”

The privacy issue is certainly not going away. In addition to monitoring email, the New York Times reports that the NSA appears to be monitoring social media.

We hear over and over again that it’s aggregated data that is shared, which isn’t true. It is individually identifiable data – and it is valuable.

We are hoping the panel will have action plans. It was suggested that the Tech Council website have a section devoted to protecting privacy. In the meantime, Privacysos.org has a wealth of information.

What seems to need attention next is getting communities and businesses on board with Last Mile, as well as getting municipalities to understand the role they can play in getting it done. What’s in it for them? A lot. Western Mass has $41 million from the state to build out Last Mile. Where are we?

We’ve talked about the “internet of things,” and now that we’re getting infrastructure, we can start to apply the technology we’ve been talking about, including things like incubating environments for makers. What other things can we do with the developing broadband infrastructure, to turn it into an economy that’s sustainable for the Cape?

You cannot have the internet of things without the Last Mile. It all ties in together.

There is still much to be done – which is why we’ll be meeting again the first Wednesday of November. Join us!

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