Cruzio thought we might have less activity during shelter-in-place, but we were wrong.
School kids need more internet
Children who used to access the internet from their school or library don’t have access there any more. So Cruzio has added a considerable number of donated accounts to our work. We’re collaborating with the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (COE) to get internet connections to low-income families who need to get their kids online.
If children can’t access the internet, they may fall behind in school, and we can’t let that happen.
We want to give a big shout out to Jason Borgen from the COE, to the Pajaro Valley School District, to individual schools who’ve contacted us, and to the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz, all of whom have been working hard on this. At Cruzio it’s part of our Equal Access Santa Cruz project. And you’re helping too: by being a customer, you’re making it possible for us to extend a hand to neighbors when they need it.
But connecting people one home at a time is slow. And some locations are impossible to serve. So Cruzio is supplying internet to “internet drive-ins” around the county. These are parking lots — underused these days — where people can drive up and use high-speed wifi while safely isolated in their cars.
Not Just Students — Everybody Needs Internet
People working and studying at home all day need a lot more internet. Industry reports show that internet use is up 36% around the country. At the same time, business offices are shuttered.
To the extent that Cruzio’s business customers help offset residential accounts, that’s a difficulty. Cruzio is working hard at improving service while at the same time seeing a drop in income.
At the outset of the virus crisis, we set down our priorities:
1. Keep the network running reliably.
2. Continue to employ and pay all existing staff.
3. Extend service to needy people in the county, especially low-income students.
4. Improve service wherever possible, because everybody needs it more.
It’s certainly challenging to work in current conditions. Costs are up, income is down. We’ve had to change plans from buying a new vehicle to repairing our old one. We’re riding all our equipment hard, traveling from one end of the county to another. Our tech support is answering double the calls they did at this time last year. And they’re doing it from their homes, which is an extra complication.
Our field ops crews have developed “no-touch” installations, where we can hook a house up to our faster network without ever going inside. Sure, we miss meeting you, but it’s a very virus-aware option, and we’re happy to do it for your safety and ours.
That’s on top of the regular gloves, masks, and safe distances we’ve been practicing since the beginning. And our managers have been working hard to set up contact tracing. In case any of our employees falls sick with the virus, we will be able to track anyone that person came into close contact with.
We’re Not Even Holding Doors Open for Each Other
We’re thinking of ways to be better at this distancing every day. Chris Frost and James Hackett are our master planners. They have all our crews staying far apart from each other when they have to be at the office — crews are on separate floors of the building, in separate offices, using separate facilities. We’re not even holding the door open for each other. Fresh gloves, surfaces wiped constantly, the whole deal.
The cleaning hasn’t been the hardest part — it’s the isolation. Our crews have always chatted and hung out in the office before leaving for the field and when putting tools away at the end of the day. No one’s complained about the constant wipedowns, but we have had staff mention how much they miss the camaraderie with each other and with customers.
So that’s what it’s like at Cruzio these days. Though we’ll probably all be wearing masks, or waving through a closed window, please know our techs are smiling at you, and saying thanks for being a customer.