U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, will convene a hearing titled “There’s an App for That: Trends in Mobile Technologies,” at 2:30 p.m. on May 15, 2018. The hearing will examine the state of the mobile app economy and its role in fostering job creation, e-commerce, innovation, and technology investment in the United States, and how apps are disrupting traditional business models and evolving in their sophistication and utility for consumers and businesses. Additionally, the hearing will explore ways to improve mobile broadband connectivity and how to address policy issues to support the continued growth and prosperity of the app economy.
- Mr. Mike Forster, Chairman, Innovate Mississippi, and Founder, Mississippi Coding Academies
- Mr. Roger Koch, Chief Executive Officer, Shield Group Technologies
- Dr. Sarah Oh, Research Fellow, Technology Policy Institute
- Mr. Morgan Reed, President, ACT – The App Association
*Witness list subject to change.
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet
This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Chairman Roger Wicker
Good afternoon. And welcome to all of you. Today the Subcommittee meets to examine the state of the app economy and trends in mobile technologies. I am glad to convene this hearing with my good friend and colleague Ranking Member Schatz.
Over the past several weeks, consumer interactions with mobile apps and the information these apps collect about Americans has dominated news reports. This hearing is an opportunity to take the broader look at the app industry and to understand its contributions to our economy in creating jobs, driving investment, and fostering innovation. It is also an opportunity to discuss emerging trends within apps, such as virtual reality and AI apps. In addition, I hope we will examine policy issues related to broadband infrastructure, data privacy, workforce development, and other considerations important to the continued growth of the app economy.
Proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices has created an exciting market of mobile applications. Mobile apps allow consumers to access virtually anything at their fingertips. Consumers can watch TV, deposit checks at the bank, control the lighting and security within their homes, start their cars, or connect with a loved one face-to-face all through the touch of an app.
In a short period of time, a large economy has developed around the app industry. It has become a robust platform for job creation, investment, innovation, competition, and new opportunities for American enterprise. Increasingly, consumers and businesses are turning to apps not just for entertainment, but also for efficiency, convenience, productivity, and cost savings. Mississippi farmers, for example, are using apps for precision agriculture technologies. Apps allow them to monitor the health of their crops and the welfare of their livestock remotely. This helps farmers accurately predict agricultural yields, cutting down costs and increasing productivity. Mississippians are also using apps to access telemedicine services. Apps can provide patients with immediate access to medical professionals or other health-related services that are not readily available in their neighborhoods or communities. This technology helps improve patient outcomes and saves lives.
At the foundation of the app industry’s success is a reliable broadband network. Significant investments in broadband networks have enabled many of the innovative apps consumers enjoy today. Next-generation communication networks, such as 5G, promise even greater app capabilities. We need to ensure that reliable, broadband networks are available to all Americans, whether that is through private investment or dedicated government programs, like Phase II of the Mobility Fund. Broadband offers immediate access to economic opportunities and other resources that have been shifting to the online marketplace.
In addition to prioritizing the deployment of broadband infrastructure, workforce development is critical to growing the app economy. Maintaining a trained and skilled workforce will help meet industry needs and ensure that the United States remains a leader in the global digital economy. I am grateful to have Mr. Forster here today representing Innovate Mississippi and the Mississippi Coding Academies. I look forward to hearing more about his work to train the next generation of workers in Mississippi and across the country.
In the last decade, the app economy has clearly brought value to consumers and businesses. It promises to continue delivering this value as apps increase in personalization and utility for users while adequately safeguarding consumer data. To that end, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about how to preserve the many economic and societal benefits of mobile applications now and in the years to come.
The app economy is not just about Silicon Valley. The level playing field of the internet has enabled growth and success for businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the country, including in my home state of Florida.
And while these apps now contribute billions to the economy, it’s important to recognize that developers also are tackling significant social issues in the country. Several companies are working on ways to address issues surrounding climate change and sea-level rise. And others have developed apps to help keep our children safe – this is especially important given the recent tragic spate of school shootings.
Joining us at this hearing today is Mr. Roger Koch, the CEO of Shield Group Technologies. Shield Group is headquartered in West Palm Beach and has focused on the development of apps to improve communication between citizens and law enforcement. In particular, the company has developed StudentProtect to allow students and faculty to contact law enforcement about threats, including providing precise information about the location of the threat. Given the Parkland tragedy, I’d like to learn more about StudentProtect and how it can help law enforcement receive information about school threats.
More broadly, we need to focus on making sure American workers have the right skills to participate in this part of the economy and push its success forward.
And colleges and universities throughout Florida have stepped up to the plate. From Florida Atlantic University – with its Tech Runway – to Florida Polytechnic University and the University of South Florida, our institutions of higher education are training the coders and entrepreneurs that will be designing the next wave of apps.
Switching gears a bit, tomorrow, the Senate will vote on a resolution to restore strong net neutrality protections enforced by the FCC. I will have more to say on this on the floor, but I wanted to state clearly and forcefully that I believe we would not have the app economy we have today without robust net neutrality.
Repeal of these protections by the Republican FCC last December was a mistake. The end of net neutrality is now less than a month away – we must stand with American consumers and restore these essential protections.
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Mike ForsterChairman, Innovate Mississippi, and Founder, Mississippi Coding AcademiesForster Testimony.pdf (100.48 KB)
Mr. Roger KochChief Executive OfficerShield Group Technologies
Dr. Sarah OhResearch FellowTechnology Policy Institute
Mr. Morgan ReedPresidentACT – The App Association