Wicker: Advancing the Internet of Things in Rural America

UMMC’s Telehealth Center Director Testifies Before Senate Panel

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, conducted a hearing to examine the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) in rural communities. The hearing also discussed the infrastructure needs necessary to advance the IoT market to ensure rural America has access to products and devices that are driving the digital economy.

Mr. Michael Adcock, Executive Director of Telehealth Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), highlighted ways in which it is improving accessibility, quality, and affordability of healthcare in rural Mississippi. In October, the Health Resources and Services Administration the designated UMMC as a Telehealth Center of Excellence.

Key highlights of Wicker’s opening statement include:

“The Internet of Things encompasses a diverse market of internet-connected devices, machines, and physical objects. Over the past few years, we have seen an increasing number of physical objects like refrigerators and washing machines take on “smarter” capabilities through internet-connected sensors. Internet connectivity enables these things to collect data and share actionable insights to consumers and businesses alike. This information allows the user to be more productive, efficient, and cost-effective. It is changing our economy.”

“In our rural communities in particular, Internet of Things technologies, such as telemedicine, are making a big impact. In my home state, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which is represented here today, is providing life-saving health-care services through innovative telehealth applications. Physicians are remotely monitoring and diagnosing patients. This remote access can offer specialty care that is not readily available in many rural communities.”

“It is vitally important that the Federal Communications Commission take steps to ensure that the Universal Service Fund program provide adequate and predictable support to help preserve and expand broadband in rural and underserved communities. It is also important for the Commission to collect accurate and reliable coverage data for programs, like Phase II of the Mobility Fund, before making new funding decisions. We should ensure the delivery of essential communications services to communities in need first.”

“The Internet of Things marks an exciting space for digital innovation in this country. There is significant economic potential associated with these technological developments. Today, I look forward to learning from our witnesses about the how the IoT is bringing vital services to rural America and creating opportunities for investment, innovation, and job creation.”

Additional witnesses at today’s hearing included:

Mr. David Armitage, Founder and CEO of Cartasite
Mr. Timothy Hassinger, President and CEO, Lindsay Corporation
Mr. Michael Terzich, Chief Administrative Officer, Zebra Technologies
Ms. Angela Siefer, Director, National Digital Inclusion Alliance