The Internet of Betterment: Setting the Example by Connecting Chicago’s Disadvantaged Neighborhoods

I grew up in Chicago, one of five children born to an American civil rights activist and Baptist minister and his wife, and together my father and mother taught us the meaning of service. We were raised to understand the importance of helping others, the joy that comes with commitment to a higher purpose, and the responsibility to do all we can to protect and improve the lives of as many people as we can.

Today, my wife and I are the parents of five children, part of the next generation of the Jackson family, still thriving in Chicago, and practicing the values we grew up with, in a city that is evolving as all great cities are, at the “speed of light.”

I am honored to have been asked to join the team at Rocket Wagon Venture Studios, and am most excited about the potential to serve with the support of my friend Don DeLoach and other board and management team members in developing not only the “Internet of Things” but what I am calling “The Internet of Betterment.”

While my advisory role will extend across all the business opportunities in development at this Chicago-based tech company, my primary focus will be to identify and support the development of connected solutions that can transform Chicago’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods into thriving communities which are smarter, brighter, safer, healthier and simply better than they have ever been.

We will work together to bring access to the Internet to connect people and support education and new and existing programs, while also driving the invention of systems that connect things, connect things and people, and bring digital services that are life-changing across every generation, from our youngest children to our respected elders, from the moment of birth to millions of moments made more meaningful over every lifetime.

In the new year 2020, as we begin the third decade of the 21st century, working with the Rocket Wagon Venture Studios team, I will be actively pursuing and elevating programs that can be innovated in, tested in, and rolled out in Chicago’s neighborhoods, schools, community centers, parks, public transportation systems and government services agencies through public, private and philanthropic collaborations.

We’re in a unique position to bring not only deep experience and expertise in the Internet of Things to these opportunities, but to also mentor Chicago’s future leaders – tomorrow’s visionaries who are growing up in an increasingly digital world. These children and young people may be activists, scientists, roboticists, engineers, mathematicians, designers, technologists, communicators and more, whose own opportunities to make a difference in their own neighborhoods will, to quote Gandhi, “Be The Change You Wish To See In The World.”

The “Internet of Betterment” scales, just as does the Internet of Things, and the Internet of Everything. It’s time for us to ensure the access to the world’s most pervasive, powerful and resilient public network in the world is the Internet for Everyone.

The potential to dramatically improve lives in Chicago’s often neglected but historic and deeply rooted neighborhoods is unlimited when we not only envision what a connected life could be like but we work everyday to bring better forward whether we are ensuring free access to broadband so every human can be connected, or use that broadband, including 5G and 6G infrastructure, to:

  • Light the streets while conserving energy
  • Provide information to first responders in real time
  • Electrify public transportation
  • Reduce the cost of local government through more efficient delivery of public services
  • Secure public housing
  • Create safer homes for seniors through innovations including fall detection
  • Deliver healthcare over the Internet to every home and individual
  • Protect schools from gun violence and other threats
  • Understand and reduce carbon emissions
  • Enhance public parks and gathering places
  • Support law enforcement while also protecting civil rights
  • Build ongoing connected educational platforms
  • …and so much more.

Above all, by investing in connected systems that address serious challenges in Chicago’s neighborhoods, we can create a thriving digital economy which includes not just new jobs, but good new jobs with pathways towards lifelong learning and career advancements, and in the process creating tomorrow’s leaders.

Having grown up with four siblings, and now raising our five children, I am looking out into the future our grandchildren and great-grandchildren can experience in more equitable, sustainable and compassionate neighborhoods, communities and cities designed to reverse the damage we have done, and to support generations to come.

I am truly grateful to be moving into this next decade with the dreamers and the doers who are as certain as I that by seeing and acting upon the potential of the “Internet of Betterment” we can combine forces and connect all in service of the greater good.