Crossing the Digital Divide: Interview with Tom Kamber

Tom Kamber has arguably done more to help seniors cross the digital divide than pretty much anyone. He founded OATS in 2004 and has built the Chelsea, NY-based organisation into a $10m / year non-profit, operating out of a gleaming tech center in the heart of Chelsea that is more 'Apple Store' than 'senior center'. He's fresh from clinching a $3m deal with Humana to bring a million older Americans online, but you get the sense from him that he's only just getting started (after all 42% of older Americans don't have a wired Internet access, meaning there's 20m+ people who need good connectivity). 

In the video interview below we cover a range of topics, including: 

  • The founding story and background to OATS & Senior Planet
  • How they got 10,000 New Yorkers online at the start of the pandemic - practically overnight - by reinventing the whole system 
  • Why he thinks OATS is one of the most effective social enterprises at tracking and measuring social outcomes
  • How solid impact tracking was the genesis of the $3m deal with Humana
  • His recommendations for go-to innovators in the space from the US and UK
  • How San Antonio and other cities are harnessing connectivity and reaping broader rewards 
  • Why trust not technology is the "killer app" for breaking through with the digital divide 
  • How we will likely be seeing aggregators and intermediaries in aging services like we've seen in other non-profits such as housing.  

There's a lot here, we hope you enjoy. You can reach Tom at OATS.org and seniorplanet.org or contact thecollective@aging2.com to be connected.