For the past few years, AppCon, the App Economy Conference, has taken over Washington, D.C. in late April. The annual event serves as an unparalleled opportunity for mobile app developers and other tech innovators to open a meaningful dialogue with political leaders about the future of emerging technologies and their impact on society.
This candid discussion is something that Marc Fischer, our CEO and Co-Founder, looks forward to every year. He usually makes the trek out to D.C. from Los Angeles just to attend this event. In the past, Marc has gotten the chance to talk with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly and Director Ajit Pai about 5G’s future in rural areas, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) about data privacy, and Congressman Ted Lieu about how education and innovation go hand-in-hand.
Due to COVID-19, AppCon 2020 has pivoted from its original arrangement — it has gone virtual! Thanks to this new digital format, the event is now spread over the course of four weeks so that attendees have a sufficient amount of time to discuss each important topic. Let’s take a look at the relevant issues that this year’s AppCon is tackling.
Why the App Economy Is Essential
Every year, AppCon is held by ACT | The App Association, an international organization that represents more than 5,000 small- and medium-sized tech companies across the mobile app economy. By connecting the tech industry’s top leaders with preeminent policymakers, ACT strives to drive smart innovation and regulation. Members of ACT include pioneers at the forefront of revolutionizing entertainment, improving productivity, enabling healthier lifestyles, and accelerating learning.
The app economy is probably bigger than you think; it’s a $1.7 trillion ecosystem that employs 5.9 million Americans. And this isn’t just in Silicon Valley; more than 83% of U.S. app companies are located outside of San Francisco. There are currently more than 2 million mobile apps available on major platforms like the App Store and Google Play. And with 3.4 billion app users around the world, it should come as no surprise that consumers spent more than $120 billion in app stores in 2019 — almost twice the amount they did in 2016.
Keeping the app economy strong and healthy is one of ACT’s biggest priorities, which is why the organization is extremely focused on building a workforce that’s educated and properly prepared for the 21st century. Despite a median annual salary exceeding $88,000, more than half a million computing jobs are unfilled in the United States. Only 65,000 U.S. college graduates earn a computer science degree each year, but this isn’t enough.
Computing and information technology occupations are projected to grow 12% by 2028, with software development jobs anticipated to grow by 21%. To address this substantial growth, ACT is urging Congress to pass the CHANCE in TECH Act, a legislation that would allow employers to streamline their apprenticeship processes and focus on developing and training job candidates correctly. ACT is also requesting that Congress appropriate at least $250 million to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps (MTC) program so that educators can receive advanced training to teach computer science correctly.
Week 1: All About Broadband
It’s no secret that widespread internet access is an essential utility to sustain the continued growth of the app economy and numerous businesses. Besides this, hundreds of millions of Americans depend on the internet to access educational opportunities, healthcare services, and participate in the global economy in general. But more than 20 million U.S. citizens currently lack access to broadband connections, making the digital divide a colossal chasm.
In Week 1, AppCon will focus on facilitating discussions around how improved access to broadband in rural and urban communities can close this immense digital divide. Political and tech leaders will examine the benefits that come with using television white spaces (TVWS), broadband mapping, and of course, the deployment of 5G.
Week 2: More Connected Healthcare
The COVID-19 pandemic has pulled back the curtain on telehealth. Today, the advantages of connected health tools are readily apparent to patients, doctors, and lawmakers — and they’re simply too big to ignore. Week 2 of AppCon will hone in on everyday digital health examples from the COVID-19 crisis, including the recent results from temporarily lifting telehealth restrictions in the U.S.
AppCon’s attendees will also discuss aspects of healthcare policy including payment for digital health tools, removing reimbursement restrictions for them, interoperability, the WEAR IT Act, and the now obvious necessity of better access to telehealth services for all Americans. If you’re a healthcare app developer, you won’t want to miss this week!
Week 3: Prioritizing Privacy and Encryption
ACT’s member companies alone handle millions of terabytes of data every day. That means that each of these organizations is on the frontline of protecting sensitive user information and ensuring that it’s being used appropriately. Each ACT member knows that proper data security is imperative. That’s why AppCon ’20 Week 3 is dedicated to this vital topic.
Political leaders and ACT members will discuss current issues regarding privacy legislation and the need for ubiquitous end-to-end encryption. AppCon attendees will also tackle one of the most timely issues of the last few months: Facial recognition. By now, you’ve probably heard stories about how law enforcement has been using this technology during the protests across America. Week 3 of AppCon ’20 intends to get to the bottom of this topic and discuss its implications for the near and far future.
Week 4: Platforms and SEPs
What do online platforms, competition, and standard-essential patents (SEPs) mean for the app ecosystem’s future? There are a ton of moving parts that go into this topic, and they’ve only helped fuel various debates in recent months.
AppCon 2020 will close out its final week with a focus on discussion about platform regulations, including antitrust and Wi-Fi standards regulations, IoT device chips, Bluetooth, and much more.
Has this blog post got you excited about the weeks to come for AppCon 2020? For more info, click here!Tags: AppCon2020, congress, connected health initiative, cybersecurity, eHealth app developer, eHealth app developer San Francisco, FCC, FCC commissioners, health app developer, healthcare mobile apps, mobile app developer, mobile app development, politics, tech and politics, tech politics, technology and politics