we’re working, but not many of us are in our building
Equal Access Santa Cruz has a simple goal: to bridge the digital divide and bring true high-speed broadband to every family in the Santa Cruz community, regardless of income level. The project is spearheaded by Cruzio Internet, one of the country’s oldest independent ISPs and a trusted partner in the Santa Cruz community for over 30 years.
When the current health crisis hit our county, our education system was an immediate area of major concern. it was obvious that the need for high-quality broadband had never been higher, and that low-income families would be the hardest hit.
Working with the County Office of Education (COE) and the Pajaro Valley School District (PVUSD) Cruzio quickly developed a plan to expand coverage and provide free and subsidized high-speed internet to dozens of low-income families and students.
The program provides families with free internet service including state-of-the-art home wifi for three months and then a heavily-discounted rate thereafter.
“Our priority is to support all students and families with the resources and tools needed for distance learning—especially our most under-served students”, said Jason Borgen, Chief Technology Officer for COE. “Focusing on equity, and doing everything we can to remove the digital divide from Santa Cruz County, the COE, and Cruzio, working together, can truly make a difference here,” he continued.
Demand for the service was overwhelming and clearly there was an opportunity to expand the program and serve many more families. Working closely with COE and PVUSD, Cruzio developed a plan to utilize district-owned properties to distribute wireless internet to many, many more families, students, and teachers. Faced with an urgent situation, Cruzio has relied on our own resources and our excellent connections within our industry. A quick call to one of Cruzio’s trusted technology partners, Aviat Networks, led to a donation of several high-end backhaul radios for use in the project. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to help Cruzio and Santa Cruz broaden the ability to communicate, learn, and continue to advance in life, even in these difficult times”, said Pete Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Aviat Networks.
While we didn’t at first consider outside donations as a possibility, once it was suggested we realized that not just Cruzio management and staff, but also other members of the Santa Cruz County community and the greater technology community recognize the importance of educational opportunity — and equity — for low-income families in our county. This knowledge has inspired us to expand the Equal Access Santa Cruz program and seek out new projects and opportunities that serve these goals.
The Digital Divide is newly revealed and it is creating unequal educational opportunity. As children are barred from libraries, community centers, and even friends’ houses, they need internet in their own homes. EASC has already provided that service to over 50 families and we are poised to serve hundreds more. And we need to act fast to connect as many people as possible as the fall semester begins.
“Our mission has always been the same,” said Chris Frost, Director of Infrastructure & Technology at Cruzio, “to offer affordable, high-quality Internet access to every home, business, and family in Santa Cruz County. Thanks to the support and vision of the community, we’re a step closer to that goal today.”
We never really closed, however, we have strongly encouraged all non-essential workers to stay away from the space until the shelter in place order was lifted. We have been diligently working over the last few months to welcome back everybody else, and can’t wait to see all of your wonderful faces!
So what’s different?
We have been following state and local guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety, including limiting entrance points to direct the flow of traffic, no longer permitting food and drink consumption in the common space, and a new check-in system at the front desk that has been designed around sanitization. We also have a strict mask policy we are enforcing seriously. It may take a little time to get used to the changes, but they’re important to create a safe, and great environment at Cruzioworks.
What other steps are you taking?
You’ll see a lot of subtle changes to the coworking space we think you’ll appreciate:
Plexiglass shields for the entire front desk
Outdoor desk space for 9-5, 24/7, and Office Members to work in
the fresh air, and also for a great space to eat and drink.
Arrows and floor markings indicating which way traffic should
flow down a hallway or how far apart you should stand while waiting.
Automatic hand sanitizer stations for all meeting rooms and other
Helpful signage encouraging safe behavior
A check-in station at the front desk where you can sanitize and
check for symptoms.
Restrooms are now single-occupancy and there are lids on the
toilets which should be put down after use.
We have reimagined our Atrium space to ensure every desk is spaced 8 to 9 feet apart. Please don’t move these desks! They are spaced to ensure the health and safety of our rad community.
We have reassessed how many people can safely sit in a meeting room together according to county guidelines. Please pay heed to the signage on the doors!
We’ve also put a freeze on new memberships and day passes. We want to ensure the health and happiness of our current members first before adding moving parts to this equation.
Tell me more about this check-in station and floor arrows.
All Cruzioworks members will be required to use the Google Symptom checker at https://landing.google.com/screener/covid19 and sign a clipboard once per day when they first arrive verifying they are symptom-free and haven’t been out of the country in the last two weeks.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, we are making all doors to the atrium space and workstations ‘exit only’ except for the front door of the lobby. This will help us to ensure everybody checks in and to make sure we can reduce the probability of somebody with symptoms entering the space. We want to stress that while this may be inconvenient, it is truly for the health and safety of everybody at Cruzioworks, the Santa Cruz Community, and beyond.
Can you get into specifics about meeting room capacity? How will this impact my twenty-person model train enthusiast meetings? You know I’m loco for locomotives!
*Sighs* I’m keenly aware of this, choo choo dude. For now, we won’t be having large gatherings, meetings, or events. We ask that you follow occupancy signage for our meeting rooms. The Ross Classroom can safely accommodate 6 people, Edison Meeting Room can hold 1, and Tesla Meeting Room maxes out at 2.
I should probably wear a mask, yeah? I heard you mention that earlier…
Of course, you should! Actually, it’s not in any way a choice. County guidelines require masks indoors, and the recent statewide order requires masks everywhere else. The only time you may remove your mask is if you are in a private office, suite, or meeting room by yourself with the door closed. Per county guidelines, once a guest enters the office you must don your mask. Whether you are working in the corner of the Atrium, or walking back to your meeting room, or even hanging out in your cool private Workstation, a mask is required at all times. Those who do not adhere to these rules will be asked to leave and repeat offenders will risk having their memberships revoked. Sorry, but this is serious folks. If you need a mask, please let us know. We have lovely masks available at the front desk.
I heard you mention food and drinks aren’t allowed in the space either. Can you let me know why??
Until further notice, please avoid eating and drinking in the atrium, including workstations. We have provided outdoor spaces to eat and drink. This is in accordance with our state and local mask policies so as to keep the space as safe as possible. Plus, it’s summer! Go out and get some sun and enjoy the incredible Santa Cruz weather!
Can I still have guests here?
We understand that to run your business, you sometimes need to have guests and clients in the space. All visitors need to check-in at the front desk, follow our entry procedures, and abide by all rules. As usual, you as members are responsible for the behavior of your guests. We’d also strongly encourage you to, whenever possible, meet outside or, better yet, online.
What else can I expect when I enter the building?
We mentioned the check-in station earlier. If you arrive before 9am in the morning, or after 6pm at night because you have a 24/7 membership, please use our check-in and sanitation station on the honor system so we don’t have to bug you later. If you are symptomatic you will be asked to leave and may return 14 days from the onset of symptoms or your encounter with a COVID-positive individual, or following a negative test. We will have digital thermometers on hand if you feel feverish and would like to verify this.
To protect the health of our employees, we request that you maintain at least six feet of distance from Cruzio staff and coworking members whenever possible. And wear your mask!
What should I do if I have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19?
If you have symptoms or test positive with COVID-19 we ask that you notify us immediately so we can conduct contact-tracing and take further steps. We’d also require that you not return to the workspace for at least 14 days and be symptom and med-free for at least 72 hours, or until you’ve tested negative for COVID-19… What are those symptoms again?
People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Or at least two of these symptoms:
Repeated shaking with chills
New loss of taste or smell
Back to more practical matters: where’s the printer?
You probably noticed that we moved the printer/copier/fax/scanner. You’ll find it in the very back of the Atrium near the Cruzio Data Center door and Cruzioworks lockers.
How does mail work?
We have fully resumed normal mail delivery. We are no longer on the “opt-in” system we used temporarily during our brief hiatus. If you receive mail at this address you can access your mailbox 24/7. It’s located near the front desk in the main lobby. Please follow arrows on the floor as that hallway is narrow.
How’s Fred doing and when will the Sentinel Cafe reopen?
Fred’s just fine and he’s looking to reopen the cafe, with new health precautions, by the end of July. Stay tuned for more information!
What about ventilation? I heard indoor air wasn’t so great…
Glad you asked. We are making sure to open as many windows as we have, turning on fans each day to ensure maximum air circulation, adjusting our thermostats and HVAC units to circulate a larger percentage of outside air, and will be propping doors open when possible. We are also keeping an eye on the science and resources available and will continue to provide whatever safety measures we can. I can’t stress this enough: safety first!
When Cruzio and Ecology Action renovated our downtown Santa Cruz building, we put in a lot of plants and trees. Maybe that’s why a family of ducks has used our sidewalk area as their nesting ground for the last several years.
Cruzio’s keenly observant director of Technology and Infrastructure, Chris Frost, has taken note of the ducks for some time, as have a few other employees. We’re always a bit concerned that the duck family has placed itself in the possible path of so many cars.
But so far, things seem to have gone okay. And they keep returning to their, and our, office building home.
This year, one of our excellent neighbors (and a Cruzioworks alum) was videoed helping the mama duck and her many ducklings make their journey down Pacific Avenue to the San Lorenzo River. This involved some busy street crossings, but our friend John, who is a good guy (a “bro” as he’s called in the video) safely shepherded the little family and by all accounts they made it once again. Phew!
Mama and Papa Mallard were also spotted early in the pandemic shutdown, flying through the empty parking garage on Cedar and Church, enjoying the solitude without people and cars. Was that a pre-duckling romantic interlude?
Sorry to bring this up amid the pandemic, but PG&E has been indicating that there may be power outages this summer, possibly similar to 2019.
To prepare for such outages, Cruzio invested in an enormous new generator in our downtown headquarters. It’s a backup to our existing backup generator, which is also enormous and powerful. And might be necessary — we want to be sure our network will continue to supply you with internet, even when a power outage lasts for days, as happened last year.
So this spring, while Cruzio was locking doors and sending employees to work from home, our system administrators welcomed the new generator. It’s hooked up, tested, and ready to go ahead of summer’s heat.
Now we wish power outages, which seemed so dire, were all we had to worry about.
Last year our heroic team (particularly Ali and Cam) kept nearly every customer running uninterrupted during the power shutdowns. We will do our best to keep it all going if there are shutdowns — major or minor — this year.
Be ready at home, too: we’ll keep our internet powered, but your home devices like computers and wifi won’t stay up unless you have an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) to plug your equipment into. Last year UPSs and generators were pretty scarce, and very high-priced, during the days-long outages. It’s probably a good idea to make sure you have the backup power you need before anything happens.
Basically, a lot of people are looking for funds from the government, whether for small business loans or individual $1200 relief checks. But the processes for receiving these aren’t always clear, and there are delays. That’s a perfect situation for scams.
“Brokers” and “agents” are already approaching people via phone and email, promising quick delivery of payments. Sometimes they pose as a bank or as a government representative.
Another type of scam targets people worrying about their health. Fake vaccines, fake medicine, fake tests.
And as always, be careful to check requests for charitable donations. We like to check Charity Navigator before giving. And it is a good time to consider giving, especially to hospitals and food banks.
To avoid fraudsters, it’s time to keep a sharp eye out. And tell your friends and family to watch out, too.
In a time like this, internet access is crucial. Cruzio is taking all the necessary precautions to stay safe while remaining fully operational to serve Santa Cruz County. All staff who are able to work remotely are now working from home. Staff working out in the field have a rigorous protocol to follow that keeps themselves and our customers safe.
We provide “no contact” installs which eliminate the need to enter your home. Safety procedures for your install begin at the office where our Field Operations teams wear gloves and a mask at all times, and customer equipment is sanitized and boxed up before going to an installation. When a team goes out to install you, they will let you know they have arrived by phone call or a knock on the door. They will complete all of the outside work, leave your router at a window or the front door, then walk at least six feet away as you take the equipment. Then, we’ll walk you through the simple steps to plug in your router. We will perform a speed test outside the house to make sure everything is operating properly, and check with you for any questions before promptly leaving.
That’s our side of the process. We also ask all of our customers to be in communication with us. If anyone in your household or office space is experiencing symptoms of illness, please let us know so that we can reschedule accordingly. There is no charge for a canceled installation when it’s done for health reasons, and we encourage anyone needing to reschedule their survey or installation for health concerns to please do so. Our teams appreciate it!
We look forward to this crisis being over — when we can speak in person with our customers and provide more close-up assistance. Until then, we’re following county and state-standard guidelines to make sure we’re doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 while making sure everyone is connected at home.
It’s been a wild ride these last couple weeks. As I sit here in my bedroom, typing to the rhythm of mellowed out percussion on Death Cab for Cutie’s “Lightness” off the album Transatlanticism, it’s easier to reflect on this journey now that there is some distance between trauma and calm, between past and present.
Leaving our physical office space en masse was surreal, to say the least. But now that I’ve been away for over a week, working out of my room answering billing calls and Cruzioworks emails beneath a canopy of bachelor-esque wall decor, it’s becoming normal. There’s a radical card my dad made me a while ago featuring Rocky and Bullwinkle almost leaping right off the page, gesturing wildly with their arms as if to present the other wall art. There’s a full-sized movie poster for hit anime film Your Name. There’s a really frickin’ cool cardboard standee of Boba Fett, infamous bounty hunter introduced in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (fact check me Brian, but Fett was pretty instrumental in helping the Empire strike back). And every geek token has its place—carefully arrayed to maximize productivity.
Observing Fancy Friday from home.
Inspiration to clean
Working from home offers the same thing owning a virtual reality rig offers: inspiration to clean! Being able to focus on work in a professional office-like environment requires a clean desk, and VR requires two by two meters of tidy floor space. My room has never looked better. But lacking motivation my room quickly becomes as apocalyptic as our current existence. Which brings me to my next point. I can be lazy.
For the low energy and uninspired, working from home is an incredible thing. There was one day this week when after getting to bed late I hit snooze more times than ever before, and when I finally got up, I had just enough time to walk four feet away to my workstation. I made it to work on time and immediately started answering calls. I groped around on the ground for a breakfast bar until I found something that resembled granola. It’s a lovely existence.
On lunch breaks, I’m able to fire up my gaming computer and play something online with one of my longtime friends. My housemates might be a little confused as to why one moment they hear “Cruzio Billing Department, this is Alex,” and then the next moment they hear “DIE NAZI SCUM! YOU’RE NO MATCH FOR MY COLT .45!”
Work is still work, just subtly different
The most significant change is the unsurprising amount of foot traffic I’m getting now. I had one walk-in yesterday. It was my housemate and he wanted to talk about nerf guns. I had a walk-out. But it was just me going downstairs to tell my housemates I fixed the internet. A large part of this week and last involved meeting the needs of Cruzio’s coworking tenants. The subtle difference is now it’s done via email and all the issues are caused by the crisis our collective conscience wrestles with.
Another one: I was on a conference call with my department and my colleague tells me my sound quality is crackling. I laughed and explained this was probably interference from my decorative steel katana I had been swinging between the wireless headset and the base station. It’s been a wild ride these last couple weeks. ~ Alex
The last couple of weeks have been an utter whirlwind. Providing customer support for our shared coworking space has been a unique challenge. There’s no roadmap for dealing with a crisis like this, so — like billions of citizens around the world — we’ve been figuring it out one day at a time.
This worldwide event sometimes feels like an action movie. We are living through the second most searched-for film on PS4: yes, I am referring to Pandemic.
Taking active and highly visible measures and then communicating those measures to our coworking community has been major in the early stages. Door handles, sink faucets, appliances, and anything frequented by human hands was sanitized twice a day. We have still been operating mostly like normal. Staff’s been taking every precaution, including washing our hands as soon as we set foot in our office. We’ve been taking advice from our community to heart, and did deep cleanings of the restroom walls, particularly around hand dryers.
Our friends at Peachy Kleen made a special visit and professionally cleaned our meeting rooms, the atrium, and every black fabric chair throughout the atrium last Saturday. On Monday I thoroughly wiped down the leather chairs in the Atrium.
Our efforts had two key purposes: to do our part to slow the spread of novel coronavirus to keep our community healthy, and to soothe our tenants in these tense and uncertain times. The optics of witnessing me wiping down a surface were almost as important as the wiping itself!
This goes straight to the heart of the importance of good communication. The CDC kept local governments informed of developments in the spread of coronavirus and Santa Cruz County followed other local municipalities and ordered a “shelter in place” effective Tuesday, March 17 at midnight. In turn, we did our best to publish the steps we were taking and relaying this information to tenants at every turn. We were figuring it out one day at a time.
I had the most surreal birthday yesterday. Most of our staff, nearly thirty people, packed up their essential belongings, computers, monitors, keyboards, mice — anything they might need to work from home. It felt like the scene in The Empire Strikes Back when the resilient Rebels are evacuating the ice planet Hoth. And we all know that feeling.
Our field operations and sysadmin teams, undaunted by the task at hand, transported and set up remote workstations in bedrooms and on dining room tables of countless employees in countless homes. In less than a day, we had moved an entire company. We had never done this before at such scale.
I type this from my bedroom. I’m optimistic that with these extreme measures, through this bizarre mass social experiment, we’ll come out of this stronger and more resilient than ever. Like Empire this will undoubtedly get worse before it’s over. But ultimately, by the end of the sequel Return of the Jedi our heroes are victorious, evil is pushed back and vanquished, and everyone gets to throw a huge party with the Ewoks.
For folks who’ve been displaced and need to connect to the internet, Cruzio has set up several public wifi spots outdoors which you can access in your car or while social distancing. This internet is very fast and it’s free of charge. There’s no password.
We have many locations around the county. Some of our drive-ins are for students and their families — if that applies to you, contact your school district for info — but the general public can use the following locations to access the internet:
“As a part of the community and provider of a crucial resource, we are compelled to help in times of crisis however we can. It wasn’t lost on us when schools announced the start of homeschooling that many students would face the burden of broadband access inequality. That’s when we started looking for parking lots to set up drive-in hotspots – spots where folks could access a reliable connection while social distancing in their cars. The need was realized again with the fires and these have become a public utility in an emergency”
We’ve been very active setting up school parking lots for the school year ahead. The fire delayed us but, hopefully, we’ll be back installing in the next few weeks. If you know of or own any parking lots next to tall buildings that could be viable for free public wifi access, please let us know at cruzio.com/contact.
Here at Cruzio, we’re always looking to upgrade our network infrastructure and our members always get moved to the newest service as soon as humanly possible. We use best-of-breed technologies to connect as many people as we possibly can to the best possible broadband. Right now, as AT&T continues to pull back from supporting and maintaining the copper lines, we’re aggressively building out our independent, Net Neutral fiber-wireless network and moving as many of our Velocity ADSL users over to that service as quickly as we can.
If you’re upgrading from Velocity to Cruzio’s locally-owned and -operated, independent, open and Net Neutral network, here are a few things you might want to know.
What’s the new service all about?
For most folks, this is going to mean switching you to our ultra-fast high-speed wireless service, Wireless Pro. We call it Pro because it’s professional-grade — perfect for connected homes, home businesses or small to mid-sized businesses of all kinds. And our new low price means anyone can afford it.
How’s this going to work?
First step: a site survey. Site surveys come with no commitment or cost, and typically only take 20-30 minutes for our friendly, professional techs to get on the roof of your building to check line-of-sight to one of Cruzio’s many access points and plan any potential wire-runs from the roof to the building. We don’t need you to be present for the survey but if you’d like to be, no problem.
If you happen to be in one of our Certified Buildings (generally an apartment or office building), or if your house had Cruzio Wireless Pro in the past, things are even easier and we can generally skip the survey step.
Once we’ve confirmed eligibility, we’ll schedule the install. For new installations, we’ll mount a small receiver on your roof or eaves and then run wires into your home or office to connect to your wifi gear. If you’ve been living with older copper wiring, you will love the difference our professional work makes. The install will take a few hours and we’ll need a responsible adult there so we can access inside the property. Our techs carry ID and are great with friendly pets.
Is it good for WiFi?
Absolutely. Your internet will be faster. To take advantage of those speeds, you need a good wifi router. If you’re currently renting hardware from Cruzio, we’ll swap that out at no cost to you for a shiny new Gigacenter. It’s a fantastic piece of hardware that’ll give you great wifi speeds and coverage and allow our techs to best support your service in the future. If you don’t currently rent hardware from us, now’s a great time to start. Just add a Gigacenter on the upgrade order form and we’ll install it when we upgrade your connection. If you’d prefer to keep your own hardware, no worries. We just can’t provide the same level of troubleshooting and don’t always anticipate performance will match the Gigacenter.
What about phone?
With mobile phones in all our pockets, we’ve found that many people aren’t using a home phone anymore. If this is you, great. The new service is internet only and blazing fast for all your cloud-based services. If you do still want to keep your phone, the new service doesn’t come with phone included but, don’t worry, we have options. Our recommendation would be to switch to a Voice over IP (VoIP) phone solution. Your new, faster, super-low latency internet service is perfect for VoIP service. There are many VoIP providers, but our research has found that Ooma is one of the best out there. You can grab an Ooma device at Best Buy or Amazon or, if you prefer, you can purchase the unit from Cruzio. It’s not a Cruzio service — Ooma will provide the phone connection and bill you going forward (it’s around $20/mo, much less than a standard landline), but you can get the hardware from Cruzio for $30. Your current phone will plug right into it, and you can keep your current phone number.