Better Satellite World: Transforming the Rural Economy

In this three-part Better Satellite World podcast series, SSPI Director of Innovation and Development Lou Zacharilla interviews academics, business leaders and other experts about satellites and how satellite and broadband connectivity provide rural citizens, particularly farmers, with opportunities to participate in the global economy without leaving the place they call home.

Episode 1: Transforming the Rural Economy

This episode features a roundtable conversation with Richard Baldridge, President and Chief Operating Officer at Viasat, Dr. Norman Jacknis, Senior Fellow at the Intelligent Community Forum and Professor Roberto Gallardo, Assistant Director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development and a Purdue Extension Community & Regional Economics Specialist.

Richard Baldridge joined Viasat in April 1999, serving as Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer from 2000 and as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer from 2002. Mr. Baldridge assumed his current role as President and Chief Operating Officer in 2003.

Mr.  Baldridge was elected to the Board of Directors of Viasat in 2016. In addition, Mr. Baldridge serves as a director of Ducommun Incorporated, a provider of engineering and manufacturing services to the aerospace and defense industries, and EvoNexus, a San Diego based non-profit technology incubator. Learn more.

Dr. Norman Jacknis is currently Senior Fellow at the Intelligent Community Forum. His responsibilities include leading ICF’s Rural Imperative, building on the ideas he developed for the US Conference of Mayors on a future-oriented economic growth strategy for cities.

Before joining ICF, he was Director, Cisco’s IBSG Public Sector Group (the company’s open innovation and pro-bono strategic advisory group), where he worked extensively with states and local government, the National Association of Counties, the US Conference of Mayors and the staff responsible for the Federal government’s website and citizen engagement. In addition to citizen engagement, his focus was on economic growth, innovation, and the future of technology. Before Cisco, he was technology commissioner for Westchester County, New York, when it was one of ICF’s Top 7. Learn more.

Roberto Gallardo is Assistant Director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development and a Purdue Extension Community & Regional Economics Specialist. He holds an electronics engineering undergraduate degree, a master's in economic development, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration. Gallardo has worked with rural communities over the past decade conducting local & regional community economic development, including use of technology for development.

He has authored more than 70 articles including peer-reviewed and news-related regarding rural trends, socioeconomic analysis, industrial clusters, the digital divide, and leveraging broadband applications for community economic development. Learn more.

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Episode 2: The Intersection of Satellites and Agronomy

This episode features a conversation with Farmers Edge™ CEO Wade Barnes about satellites and how satellite and data-driven technologies help farmers run efficient operations while producing more food for a rapidly growing global population.

Wade Barnes’s roots began in rural Manitoba, where his passion for agriculture started at an early age. He has a strong drive to bridge the gap between technology and agronomy; the motivating force behind starting Farmers Edge™. Wade is a strong advocate for the industry with a desire to assist growers across the world to improve their farming practices, increase profits and create more efficient cropping systems. He is an industry leader winning Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) of the Year and is recognized as one of the foremost agronomists in Western Canada. Wade is an inspiring speaker presenting at events across Canada and globally as an expert on the impact of technology on agribusiness and particularly the utilization of Variable Rate Technology by growers, investors and industry players. Some of his speaking engagements include Master Seeders, Global AgInvesting Conferences and TedX. Learn more.

Episode 3: How Satellite Can Jumpstart the Rural Economy

This episode features a conversation with Kevin Cohen, Managing Director of Viasat's Global Community WiFi business, about how satellite and broadband connectivity provide rural citizens with opportunities to participate in the global economy without leaving home.

Kevin Cohen is the managing director of Viasat’s Global Community Wi-Fi business. In this role, he is responsible for driving new business models that will bring economical broadband to unserved and underserved communities globally.

Beginning April 2016, under Kevin’s leadership, Viasat began to bring satellite-enabled Community Wi-Fi to the unconnected in Mexico. Today, Viasat’s technology reaches millions of Mexican citizens, where internet service was previously unavailable. With the increase in ViaSat-2 satellite capacity and coverage, and the upcoming launch of the ViaSat-3 satellite constellation, Viasat expects to be able to further help bridge the global digital divide—reaching millions of people in unconnected towns anywhere. Learn more.