Let’s Connect The World To Change The World

The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska hosted Shelley McKinley, General Manager of Technology and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft for a public presentation entitled, “Let’s Connect The World To Change The World,” Mar. 28.


Connectivity and overall access to technology are critical areas of need for rural economic development, health care access, education and more. As Microsoft works to build a better future, Shelley McKinley, General Manager of Microsoft’s Technology and Corporate Responsibility Group, shared how the company is connecting people, so everyone has access to the opportunities that technology provides. She expanded on the use of technology, such as artificial intelligence, to create environmental sustainability, connect 1 billion people around the world with disabilities and prepare the workforce of the future.

VistaBeam CEO Matt Larsen from Scottsbluff, Neb., welcomed attendees to the presentation. Larsen, a University of Nebraska–Lincoln graduate, launched Vistabeam in 2004 to provide broadband access into unserved and underserved areas in Western Nebraska. Vistabeam serves some of the most rural and sparsely populated parts of Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming with wireless and fiber broadband connectivity.

Following the presentation, there was a question and answer session for guests to engage with Shelley and Matt about rural broadband in Nebraska and beyond.

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More With Shelley

Beyond this public presentation, RFI also introduced Shelley to University of Nebraska students and faculty as well as several Nebraska community leaders for relationship building, information sharing and strategic foresight conversations.

Check out photos from Shelley’s visit on Facebook!

More About Rural Broadband With Expert Roberto Gallardo, Ph.D.

“The Digital Age is in full swing,” says Dr. Roberto Gallardo, assistant director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development. Hear from him about the importance of bringing rural and urban communities together to address the digital divide so that both can thrive.

Gallardo leads a 2017 RFI-funded research project titled, “Increasing Rural Civic Engagement in the Digital Age,” that seeks to increase civic engagement in three rural Nebraska communities by developing strategies and tactics for engaging in conversations online, as well as social media training, to assist rural communities in increasing and improving overall engagement.

Episode 11 of the Rural Futures Podcast featured Dr. Gallardo. He passionately challenges rural communities and national leaders to take action for digital parity, and not just in terms of logistical technology — but also in mindset.


Broadband Resources

2014 Nebraska Broadband Initiative

Nebraska Broadband Today

Federal Communications Commission Map