COVID-19 drives Santa Cruz tech community to help with distance learning
By Eric Johnson
The Mercury News
March 19, 2020 — Santa Cruz, CA
Tools developed in Santa Cruz could help other communities impacted by the pandemic
As the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 present unprecedented challenges to communities here and around the world, business leaders in the tech sector from San Jose to Santa Cruz to China are tooling up. In doing so, they are weaponizing social networks and other Silicon Valley-built tools.
As frequently happens in the tech-business world, a campaign in Santa Cruz began with a conversation on LinkedIn and soon leaped over the hill to include partners in San Jose.
Chris Frost, director of technology and infrastructure at Cruzio Internet, says his boss, co-founder and CTO Chris Neklason, wrote in a March 13 post that should local schools move classes online, techies should “consider getting in touch with the local County Office of Education or school district office and ask what they need to keep the kids at home learning.”
Chris Miller, founder and CEO of the web-development company Launch Brigade and the business consultancy Cloud Brigade, saw the post and got straight to work. He came up with a name—Cruz One—secured a domain (http://cruz.one), and built a website to help Santa Cruz County’s educational system facilitate remote learning by providing technology support for teachers and students.
Cruz One will use the services of the San Jose-based video- and web-conferencing company Zoom to connect teachers and students. Esther Yoon, a product marketer at Zoom, helped coordinate on logistics with her colleagues. Zoom CEO Eric Yuan had announced days earlier that the company, which is seeing a huge surge in downloads in the wake of the pandemic, was removing the time limits on its free service for K-12 students.