AppCon 2018: Dogtown Media Goes to Washington!

May 1, 2018 - 13 minutes read

mobile app developer

From April 23rd to the 25th, Appcon 2018 took over Washington, D.C. The annual event serves as a great opportunity for tech innovators, app developers, and entrepreneurs to open a dialogue with the preeminent leaders in politics. It’s a time to discuss and shape the future of different technologies and, in turn, their impact on society.

Marc Fischer, our CEO and co-founder, attended AppCon this year. He got the chance to speak to a dizzying number of political leaders at Capitol Hill, the FCC, and the White House! We’ve gathered some highlights from Marc’s experience below, just for you.

Three Days of Non-Stop Action

In total, 54 tech leaders representing 29 different states flew in to discuss the tech industry’s impact on humanity’s future. AppCon is hosted by the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), also known as the App Association. ACT is one of the foremost public policy organizations in Washington, D.C.

ACT represents tech companies, startups, entrepreneurs, and developers so that our voices are heard and our concerns are met with productive solutions. It aims to protect and foster the tech industry by instilling smart regulation so it can thrive in a competitive global economy.

The first day of AppCon centered around a conference discussing where the mobile app industry is and where it’s going. Currently, the global app ecosystem is worth $950 billion. Expect exponential value growth from enterprise applications and the use of IoT. But whether the app economy (or tech industry, in general) keeps succeeding or begins to falter depends on a few crucial variables.

The Importance of Education

Over dozens of meetings, Marc found one to be particularly salient: his stop at the White House. There, he had the opportunity to speak with representatives from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Together, they explored both the positive and negative impacts that disruptive technologies like automation, AI, and drones would have on our economy.

Marc and the OSTP representatives also focused on another topic near and dear to the future of society and tech — education. The United States could be facing a job crisis, unlike anything we’ve seen before. ACT projects that the app economy will create half a million more job opportunities in the U.S. alone by 2024. Other niches in the tech industry are estimated to experience similar growth.

So, why’s this a problem exactly? Because last year, only 59,000 U.S. college students graduated with a computer science degree. There are currently 503,000 computing jobs across the U.S. So only one out of every eight computing jobs is getting filled right now. Only about 40 percent of K-12 schools tech modern computer science skills. This figure dwindles down to 20 percent if you’re only considering high schools.

Education and Innovation Go Hand-in-Hand

Marc and the OSTP discussed the importance of apprenticeships and improving computer science programs in school. But this is far too big of a topic to tackle in one meeting. So, going forward, Marc and Dogtown Media will work with the OSTP to engineer smarter education! Specifically, we aim to build smarter legislation for the apprenticeship and computer science programs that will be rolled out in public schools nationwide over the next few years.Marc Fischer with Representative Ted Lieu meeting on Capitol Hill on the sidelines of a congressional vote in progress.

Education played an important part in many of Marc’s conversations. In his meeting with Congressman Ted Lieu, the two focused on getting more funding for computer science programs in the Los Angeles school system. It was great to see a familiar face in D.C.! Lieu is the Representative for California’s 33rd congressional district. Dogtown Media and Mr. Lieu’s office will collaborate more on this endeavor through a tech community involvement event in Los Angeles this summer, so stay tuned!

 

To round out Marc’s discussions on education, he also got the chance to meet with Congressman Danny Davis, U.S. Representative of Illinois’s 7th congressional district. Davis is a huge supporter of the CHANCE in Tech Act (Championing Apprenticeships for New Careers and Employees), and so is Marc. It aims to incentivize private companies to expand their workforce through the form of apprenticeships. It will serve as a great opportunity to train workers with no technical skills to become experienced knowledge workers in one of the many burgeoning niches in the tech industry.

Protecting the Potential at Stake

Besides education, cybersecurity was also a crucial conversation starter at many of Marc’s meetings. Cybercrime costs consumers a global total of $3 trillion. And the app industry is in serious need of an upgrade. Current security protocols are sub-standard at best. As apps begin to play a more integral role in all of our lives, it’s important that we address this shortcoming now.

During their talk, Congressman Lieu and Marc discussed how it’s necessary to make it easier for businesses to cooperate with the federal government when it comes to defending ourselves against national and international cyber threats. Not only is fostering such a dialogue important for both of these parties, but also for the average consumer whose data they hold.

Marc Fischer with Congressman Joseph Kennedy, Representative of Massachusets.

 

This topic also came up during Marc’s talk with Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, U.S. Representative of Massachusetts’ 4th congressional district. Besides discussing the need for Congress to legislate new net neutrality rules, the two also focused on ways to improve the implementation of the Small Business Cyber Act, which helps mandate regulations for government support of small businesses that have experienced a hack. Guidelines on how to manage such circumstances where data may be stolen or breached are absolutely necessary to figure out before you need them.

Of course, cybersecurity is moot if the ones holding your data in the first place are using it in questionable ways. This was the main agenda of Marc’s visit to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office. Internet service providers (ISPs) currently have the ability to monitor our habits virtually anywhere. They then sell this data to third parties. In an effort to protect user data from ISPs, Marc’s main request of Feinstein’s office was to draft regulations that would prevent cases like this from occurring.

On a similar note, we also got the chance to voice our adamant opposition to the Burr-Feinstein bill. This would force companies large and small to build backdoors into all of their technology for law enforcement to utilize. This opens up immense issues around the cost of compliance, as well as a great risk that these forced access points could be exploited by malicious hackers.

Everyone Deserves to Be Connected

NOTE: Dogtown Media is strongly against any threat to an open, free, fair Internet. We FULLY disagree with the FCC’s decision to rollback net neutrality regulations. If you don’t believe us, just check out our recent articles in support of it here, here, and here.

It’s hard to fathom, but many people in the United States are missing out on the numerous advantages that modern technology offers, simply because of the fact that they don’t have a fast enough connection to the Internet. 34 million Americans across the rural United States are in this predicament. This was the main topic of discussion between Marc and Ajit Pai, the now-infamous Director of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

 

Okay, now that we got that out of the way… back to the meeting! Just because two people don’t agree on one subject doesn’t mean they can’t find common ground with another. In Pai’s and Marc’s case, this happened to be improving nationwide Internet access. The two mostly focused on the rollout of 5G access nationwide over the next decade. Part of the infrastructure program involving this also includes room for speeding up Internet access for households and businesses, but Pai and Marc specifically focused on the best ways to bring technologies out to rural communities.

Leveraging Mobile MedTech More

Congressman and physician Michael C. Burgess, U.S. Representative of Texas’s 26th congressional district, decided to focus his talk with Marc on current medical issues facing the country. In particular, Burgess and his office were interested in learning how our healthcare system could utilize mobile technology more, and how it could reform Medicare and Medicaid.

 

Drug adherence is a big issue in preventative medicine. Mobile technology offers a plethora of positive regulation possibilities, like remote monitoring and scheduled reminders. Burgess and Marc touched upon the unique fact that this could also be used inversely to treat addiction problems, specifically the current opioid addiction crisis.

Mobile technology has the potential to transform how preventative medicine is represented in Congress. Currently, when a budget is put together, only the cost of the proposed legislation is shown — not the cost savings or return on investment. This holds back many great proposals from being passed that could reduce costs and improve patient outcomes. Burgess wants to change this, and he thinks that implementing cost-effective and innovative mobile solutions could help do it.

A Brighter Future, One Step at a Time

Dogtown Media is 100-percent committed to bringing empowerment to communities nationwide through our advances in technology. Marc genuinely felt like the tech industry’s voice was heard in Washington, D.C. over the course of AppCon. While the trip was undoubtedly exhausting, it was completely worth it. The dialogues that were opened could end up shaping our future.

From what we see, that future just got a little brighter!

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