Blog // Connect South Carolina

Second-Year Conference Highlights Latest Tech Developments; Connect South Carolina’s Past, Present, & Future

By Jennifer Cobb

Connect South Carolina and event partner IT-oLogy brought forth both new and old faces to participate in Connections 2014, a summit in its second year created to highlight the latest in IT, technology, and broadband in South Carolina and beyond. Just under 200 attendees turned up at the IT-oLogy Theater in downtown Columbia on Wednesday for this day-long event featuring speakers and presentations from local, national, and international companies sharing their respective work and advances in IT, technology, and broadband.

"Connections 2014 was designed for technology professionals to highlight innovative uses of technology across a variety of industries. Our goal was to have everyone walk away seeing something that they've never seen before, and I think based on the excellent presentations and feedback we've received, our goal was met," said IT-oLogy Director of Grow IT Initiatives Jim Stritzinger.

“The event was a good thing. Broadband Internet service is as important as electricity and water. The bridge between ignorance and understanding is education, and the key to education these days is the Internet,” said summit attendee Doug Busbee with Edisto.TV. “Without it, these rural areas that are already depressed will not have much hope of getting out of it. The Internet opens up the world, and the sky is the limit.”

The South Carolina Broadband Advisory Council also convened Wednesday, celebrating its one-year anniversary by hosting a breakfast meeting discussing the growth of the Connect South Carolina program, the newest programs launched by Connected Nation, including Drive and Digital Works, and what’s to come for the program as a whole.

“In the year it took between Connections 2013 and Connections 2014, we have seen such tremendous progress with the Connect South Carolina program and the latest technological advancements coming out of our state as illustrated by the impressive presentations held throughout the day,” said Connect South Carolina Community Technology Advisor Lindsay Conrad. “We now have 35 counties engaged in the Connected Community Engagement program, and two of those counties are on their way to certification. South Carolina’s home broadband adoption rate surpassed the national average, and we work daily to facilitate the access, adoption, and use of broadband throughout the state to support economic development and technological advances.”

“We have come a long way since 2010 when the home broadband adoption rate in South Carolina was 62% before seeing that number increase by 14-percentage points to 76%, surpassing the national average in 2013,” said Connected Nation President/COO Tom Ferree. “While there is still work to be done, we are proud to see the results of our efforts and continue to work towards widespread access, adoption, and use of broadband in the state.

Ferree hosted a morning keynote session titled “Connect South Carolina: The Road to Come,” where he highlighted the past, present, and future of the Connect South Carolina program before moderating the Connect South Carolina afternoon breakout session titled “Broadband & Innovation in Your Community.”

Presentations throughout the day featured Garima Prasai, chief evangelist for the IBM Watson Group, who shared the vision of the group helping to commercialize IBM Watson Solutions; Dr. Jerry Tessendorf, a professor in the Division of Visual Computing within the School of Computing at Clemson University, who shared the past and present of visual effects; and IT-oLogy’s Jon Bartschi, who presented on the innovative world of 3D printing, among other thought-provoking demonstrations.

“Connections 2014 was a great success, and we appreciate the support and group effort from IT-oLogy. We look forward to future collaboration and preparing for Connections 2015,” said Conrad. 

For more information about Connect South Carolina or to get your community Connected with Connect South Carolina, please contact Community Technology Advisor Leslie Callison at [email protected].

Photo from left: Connect South Carolina Project Manager Adam Highley, Ferree, Connected Nation Counsel Eric Mills, Callison, IT-oLogy President Lonnie Emard, and Conrad.



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