Our Favorite Takeaways from AppCon 2020

October 7, 2020 - 8 minutes read

What a whirlwind the last few weeks have been! This year’s AppCon, the App Economy Conference just wrapped up. While past AppCon events took place in Washington, D.C., 2020’s conference went completely digital. Fortunately, this change in the medium didn’t stop attending mobile app developers and tech innovators from opening a meaningful dialogue with political leaders about the impact of emerging technologies on society.

From broadband and 5G to telehealth and data privacy, here are the favorite AppCon 2020 highlights of Marc Fischer, our CEO and Co-Founder.

Better Internet Access Is Essential for Every Aspect of Society

The growth of the $1.7 trillion app economy and numerous other sectors depends on widespread internet access. Whether it’s educational opportunities, work, or healthcare, hundreds of millions of Americans turn to the internet every single day to get things done. With that said, do you know how many U.S. citizens currently lack access to adequate broadband connection? 20 million! Unsurprisingly, this transforms the digital divide into an enormous chasm.

During AppCon 2020, attendees got to meet with several members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to discuss the benefits that television white spaces, (TVWS), better broadband connectivity, and 5G infrastructure can bring to America. FCC Commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr joined in on the conversation and respectively honed in on ensuring broadband exists everywhere in the U.S. and making more spectrum available.

COVID-19 has made it readily apparent that internet access and connected devices are integral to carry out remote learning successfully. That’s why FCC Legal Advisor Umair Javed and Travis Litman, Chief of Staff and Senior Legal Advisor for the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, dedicated their time at AppCon 2020 towards discussing the digital divide’s effect on education and how it can be mitigated. AppCon attendees also got to talk with Evan Swarztrauber, a Policy Advisor of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, about increasing rural healthcare budgets and improving broadband access in these regions.

Whether it’s 5G, broadband, or TVWS, we strongly believe that everyone deserves strong internet access; it’s a necessity for practically every aspect of our modern lives. But this can only occur through more investment on a federal and private level.

Connected Health Tech Will Be a Cornerstone of Medicine, Even After COVID-19

Besides pulling back the curtain on how integral internet access is to remote education, COVID-19 has also unveiled the necessity of telehealth. Connected digital tools have been invaluable in the U.S. healthcare system’s battle with the pandemic. Doctors and patients have benefited immensely from the temporary restriction lifting on telehealth and medical app usage. That’s why a big part of AppCon 2020 focused on meeting with congressional leaders to ensure that digital health remains a cornerstone of our health system.

The U.S. currently spends $3 trillion on healthcare annually. $1 trillion of this goes through Medicare and Medicaid. Unfortunately, the country is still short by roughly 30,000 physicians, and this deficit will leap to 90,000 in approximately ten years. Around this exact same time, 70 million Americans will be 65 or older, and 80% of them will have at least one chronic condition. To make matters worse, 40% of Medicare patients have inadequate broadband access right now.

During their discussion with AppCon attendees, members of the U.S. Commerce Department acknowledged that telehealth has been extremely beneficial to Medicare. But for this technological paradigm to grow in the right direction, innovators and legislators must embrace what works and discard anything inefficient. We should take a lean approach to data management and prioritize the information that makes the most positive impact for the fewest dollars.

Dr. Donald Rucker, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), also spoke with attendees about the need to examine data gathering and usage so that patients can have agency over their healthcare. Rucker also discussed the difficulties of EMR integration, HIPAA compliance, and the often incomplete pictures of patient data that doctors around the country deal with.

COVID-19 has spurred a new age of digital innovation in the healthcare domain. We strongly believe that establishing telehealth, remote patient monitoring, and other digital advances as permanent fixtures is the right way to go. These technological capabilities allow patients to get treatment from the comfort of their own homes while drastically cutting costs. We hope that more political leaders start to see these clear-cut advantages for what they really are — a path towards a healthier future for all U.S. citizens

Data Privacy and Encryption Must Be Prioritized

There’s no doubt that we live in the information era. ACT’s member companies alone handle millions of terabytes of data every single day. We know that proper data security is imperative to protecting sensitive information and ensuring it’s being used appropriately. That’s why an entire week of AppCon 2020 was dedicated to this topic!

AppCon attendees and congressional leaders delved into the critical issues surrounding privacy legislation as well as the need for ubiquitous end-to-end encryption. They also made room to discuss the timely topic of facial recognition.

While the development of artificial intelligence has brought humanity several unprecedented capabilities, some of them demand more careful consideration regarding their usage. Facial recognition is one such matter. Attendees and political leaders talked about the implications that facial recognition and its accompanying legislation could have for both the near and far future.

See You At AppCon 2021!

As always, AppCon was an amazingly insightful event! The candid discussions that Marc gets to have at these conferences are something he looks forward to every year. They’re the reasons why Marc always makes the trek out to D.C. from Los Angeles!

As much fun as AppCon 2020 was, we hope that the world beats COVID-19 by next year’s event so that things return to normal and we can hold AppCon 2021 in-person. Until then, stay safe, and stay informed!

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