Giving Compass' Take:

• To address the digital divide, states are investing in datacasting to help rural students who don't have reliable internet access. 

• How can donors help expand this initiative? In what other ways can we repurpose tech solutions to address issues brought on by the pandemic? 

• Read more on how COVID-19 highlights the connectivity gap in rural communities. 

Datacasting, or data broadcasting, has been used for years in the public safety sector, helping first responders prepare for natural disasters, search and rescue missions and school safety operations. Now, the concept is being repurposed to provide rural students who don't have reliable access to the internet with remote learning opportunities.

The technology, which bypasses the need for a cellular network or internet service, uses television broadcast signals to distribute information to any device that is wireless enabled, like a smartphone, tablet or Chromebook.

"What datacasting is doing is creating a network, but it’s not the same thing as the internet," said Stephanie Frazier, vice president of education at SCETV, South Carolina's education television network. "Anything that you can put in a learning management system or send via email, you can send via datacast using [a broadcast signal]."

And because the information is sent over a secure network, said Jeremy Cauthen, SCETV's director of communications, it would be safe from activity recently concerning other districts, like ransomware attacks, data breaches and iterations of "Zoombombers."

"Content sent through datacasting is encrypted and targeted to ensure broadcast transmission privacy and security," Cauthen said.

The model requires a receiver and an antenna, which the district would provide free of cost to families, and can transmit information wherever there is a transmitter tower —​ something every South Carolina school district has, said Demarius Gaither, director of technology at Fairfield County School District.

Read the full article about datacasting by Naaz Modan at Education Dive.