One out of every three people in Louisiana do not have access to high-speed internet. That’s a total of 1.5 million Louisianans who lack access to reliable and affordable broadband.
Veneeth Iyengar (MS in Finance ’11) is determined to close that gap and create new opportunities for access to digital services. And Iyengar says the convergence between broadband and health care will be an important stepping stone to help drive all things digital.
Iyengar is executive director of broadband development and connectivity for the State of Louisiana. It’s technology in service to the greater good, work that earned him a 2022 Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association Public Service Award. He coordinates and leads local, state, and federal leaders to invest over $1.2 billion in Louisiana’s infrastructure dollars to eliminate the digital divide by 2029.
What’s next in digital health care innovation
In today’s digital age, internet connection is a necessity. It’s not just about email or searching for the answer to a question. It’s about the building blocks of society: education, health care, and more. Iyengar says lack of health-care access during the pandemic and even afterward impacts Louisianans and others across the country for two reasons: lack of access to internet and digital literacy.
“This is where health care-focused solutions will come in,” Iyengar said. “How do we get the disruptors in the industry to engage with rural, underserved communities to develop opportunities for high-speed connections that will drive health care outcomes? What can be developed when entrepreneurs hone in on those rural communities? I think as health care focuses more on rural areas, this new fourth industrial revolution – increasing connectivity and automation – is going to be the new focal point for opportunity,” Iyengar said.
While other states work to improve broadband development, Louisiana is considered a national thought leader about addressing the digital divide. Within the last six months, Iyengar’s office has hosted Vice President Kamala Harris, Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, and senior executives from the Department of Commerce to help open and improve dialogue across the country.
Federal funding will help Iyengar succeed in his goal to provide Louisianans with broadband access. “It will open up an ocean of a million and a half new customers,” he said.
Iyengar says he has a built-in tie with Carey. Connecting with Johns Hopkins alumni in past positions has helped him build the network he is still in contact with today. And he is always happy to engage and meet with as many different Carey individuals as possible.
“There has been a direct line between my experience, employers, and Johns Hopkins. It has been very beneficial to leverage the strengths of Carey,” Iyengar said.