Become a Digital Ready Community
Unfortunately, local community policies and a lack of local coordination are often major hurdles to broadband providers, as they work to expand their networks and advance access to broadband services.
This solution seeks to streamline this process, by eliminating unnecessary policies, consolidating information, and appointing a single point of contact that can ensure that the community is working as efficiently as possible with providers and gaining access to the networks and services that are needed.
All community stakeholders, local governing bodies, agencies, utilities, etc. should meet and identify all of the local policies, regulations, and permits required of a telecommunications provider. These disparate elements should be organized into a set of requirements, and a website established with all necessary forms available electronically and capable to be electronically signed.
This group will also appoint a single point of contact (SPOC) for all telecommunications infrastructure development projects. This individual be the community liaison with providers and assist both the community and the provider through any necessary communications and working through any necessary issues
As a commitment to this process, the local governing body/s should pass language that requires the agreed-upon times for responses to provider outreach, permit approval times, and authorizes the SPOC.
Provide a framework through which a community can demonstrate that they are a “Digital Ready Community” that has streamlined policies, cleared barriers, and is committed to making broadband infrastructure deployment in the community a priority.
1. Provides the community with the opportunity to identify their requirements and make it easier for the community to assist and work with a provider who seeks to expand services.
2. Gives providers a centralized location to identify necessary regulations, and the opportunity to work with a local jurisdiction to address those regulations in an effective manner.
3. Through the Community Broadband POC, a liaison is established through whom providers and the community can more easily work with one another, and cuts down on the opportunity for poor communication.
1. Conduct an initial meeting of involved parties, with a request that any needs/concerns they have related to broadband be brought to this formative meeting.
2. Hold a second meeting of this group and others who were identified during the first meeting to review the local regulations and requirements and to discuss any new requirements that may have been thought of.
3. Hold a 3rd meeting to review the final list of local regulations and ensure that the responsible bodies have the necessary action items to amend those requirements/policies and to identify the Community Broadband POC candidates.
4. Pass the necessary language in the governing bodies to amend any necessary regulations or policies, as well as authorizing the SPOC according to local law.
5. Publish the list of requirements along with the necessary electronic documentation as well as the contact information for the SPOC.
6. Promote the Digital Ready Community site and SPOC, and apply for Certification by completing the application and submitting all necessary documentation
Local government, utilities, planning commissions, zoning boards, other right-of-way managers, etc
Boonville IN: Broadband Ready Certification: Includes POC, and resolution
Model Ordinances/Resolutions from various states:
MN Telecommuter Forward: https://mn.gov/deed/assets/telecommuter-forward-application-model-resolution-word_tcm1045-413760.docx
Indiana Broadband Ready: https://www.in.gov/indianabroadband/2632.htm
Tennessee Broadband Ready: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/ecd/documents/broadband/Broadband_Ordinance_SAMPLE.PDF
Georgia Broadband Ready: https://broadband.georgia.gov/media/4/download
Develop a Technology Action Committee
Establishing a formal, long-term community Technology Action Committee can help to sustain the implementation of the technology action plan and the growth of broadband and technology access, adoption, and use in the community. By forming this group and seeking 501c3 status, a local Technology Action Committee (TAC) can be empowered to take on actions that they deem necessary to the sustainability of their community regarding broadband and technology. Ideally, the team would: 1) promote broadband and technology access adoption and use; 2) serve as the defacto go-to resource for broadband and technology for the community; 3) seek ways to educate and empower the community regarding broadband and technology; 4) unify the community on broadband and technology, in order to better understand and communicate broadband and technology opportunities; 5) take action on recommendations from the plan as well as others that they may find necessary and beneficial to the growth of their community.
Organize, establish, and promote an empowered group of passionate and interested individuals focused on broadband and technology access, adoption, and use.
1) Determine an interim board that will be able to provide the initial leadership and direction, set bylaws, structure, and apply for nonprofit status.
2) Work with a local lawyer, reduced rate where possible, finalize the organization and get non-profit status applications completed.
3) Begin regularly scheduled meetings, and recruit businesses and individuals to the TAC.
4) Create a centralized technology portal/website that promotes local technology resources for use by residents. Resources would include calendars (promoting local tech events and showing available hours at public computer centers), online training resources, and local computer resources.
Community service organizations, Libraries, Schools, Internet Service Providers, Local and County Government, Local Businesses and Industries, Economic Development Groups, and others as needed
Missouri Department of Education's Six-Step Process in Creating a Technology Action Plan: https://dese.mo.gov/quality-schools/education-technology/six-step-process-creating-technology-plan
The Role of Community Leadership I nthe Development of Grassroots Innovations: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2210422416300417?via%3Dihub
Forbes's E-Gov to Basis Points - Municipal Credit and Next-Gen Government Digital Leaders: https://www.forbes.com/sites/investor/2019/05/15/e-gov-to-basis-points-municipal-credit-and-next-gen-government-digital-leaders/#57e50e577bc7
Smart Cities Readiness Guide: https://rg.smartcitiescouncil.com/
Diligent Insights's Municipal Boards - Best Practices for Adopting Technology: https://insights.diligent.com/boardroom-technology-local-government/municipal-boards-best-practices-for-adopting-technology
Develop a Telehealth Partnership
Telehealth makes health care more accessible to people around the world. The application of telehealth is broad; however, hospitals, clinics, physicians, and patients alike are finding great advantages from the technology, particularly as the COVID-19 virus dominates the headlines. Access to health care in rural areas of the country has decreased as rural hospitals close and physicians move to more populated areas, in part due to the increasing costs of Health care service compared to the low density of rural populations. Telehealth can help reverse the trend by making it easier and more cost effective to offer Health care services remotely.
Bring together the appropriate and interested parties in the community to enable or expand telehealth services that will enhance access to Health care in the community. This may be the augmentation of services already provided in the community by primary care physicians and clinics, or it may be providing acute care services through partnerships with other local and long distance entities.
1) Form a project team focused on determining the needs of the community and working to establish telehealth solutions;
2) Determine the Health care needs of the community;
3) Research potential applications, solutions, and partners that can impact those needs;
4) Establish partnerships to deploy telehealth solutions;
5) Educate the community on the availability of services.
Health care Providers, Pharmacies, Local Leaders, Libraries, Community Service Organizations, Health Department, Local Citizens, Internet Service Providers
Telehealth Resource Center's Telehealth 101: https://www.telehealthresourcecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Telehealth-101.pdf
Telehealth Resource Center's 15 Step Business Model: https://www.telehealthresourcecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/15-Steps-Jan.-2019.pdf
Center for Connected Health Policy's Fact Sheet Library: https://www.cchpca.org/resources/search?type=85
Connected Nation Michigan's Health care from Anywhere - Telehealth Use and Perceptions in Rural Michigan: https://connectednation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CN_TELEHEALTH_2020_022720_FINAL-2.pdf
Develop Public-Private Partnerships to Deploy Broadband Service
Public-private partnerships take many forms, limited only by the imagination and legal framework in which the municipality operates. Some communities issue municipal bonds to fund construction of a network, which they lease to private carriers, with the lease payments covering the debt service. Others create non-profit organizations to develop networks in collaboration with private carriers or provide seed investment to jump start construction of networks that the private sector is unable to cost-justify on its own., A public-private partnership should not be simply seen as a method of financing. The strength of these partnerships is that each party brings something important to the table that the other doesn’t have or can’t easily acquire. The community can offer infrastructure (publicly owned building rooftops, light poles, towers, and other vertical assets for mounting infrastructure) for the deployment of a network, as well as committed anchor tenants. Private-sector partners bring network-building and operations experience.
Leverage existing community assets in partnership with private sector carriers to expand broadband network deployment.
1) Determine Priorities: Competition, enhanced service, equity and service to all, public control over infrastructure, risk avoidance, redundancy, etc.
2) Examine different models of partnership:
Model 1: Private Investment, Public Facilitation: Make available public assets like fiber and conduit, share geographic information systems data, streamline permitting and inspection processes, offer economic development incentives to attract private broadband investment.
Model 2: Private Execution, Public Funding: Identify revenue streams that can be directed to a private partner, issue RFP for private turnkey execution.
Model 3: Shared Investment and Risk: Evaluate using assets to attract private investment, evaluate funding new assets to attract private investment, evaluate building new fiber assets to businesses and/or homes for leasing to private ISPs.
3) Understand key legal considerations for localities looking to build a broadband partnership: Review authority issues, understand the legal tools and instruments that could shape the partnership, negotiate the agreement.
Local units of government; Broadband providers; Community anchor institutions; Residents and businesses
Broadband USA's Introduction to Effective Public-Private Partnerships for Broadband Investments: https://broadbandusa.ntia.doc.gov/sites/default/files/resource-files/bbusa_effective_public_private_partnerships.pdf
Building rural broadband from the ground up: http://bit.ly/2dx4MBw
The Urban Land Institute’s Ten Principles for Successful Public-Private Partnerships: https://bit.ly/2KKZqUv
United States Department of Agriculture: https://bit.ly/2yUGikq
Explore One-to-One Device Programs
Online content and web-enabled course delivery can provide opportunities for learning beyond the traditional face-to-face course format found in many K-12 institutions. These applications can be further bolstered by providing students with their own internet-enabled devices. Advancements in technology and personal computing provide new opportunities for student engagement and learning. Implementing a 1:1 device program is not a light undertaking, and it requires the input and dedication of administrators, teachers, and students.
Improve student learning through individualized devices with access to the internet.
1) Create your 1:1 vision and leadership team: A 1:1 program is not about the devices; rather, it’s about creating an environment where all students have greater access to learning resources. Planning teams should include a diverse array of stakeholders from the school including administrators, teachers, students, and others.
2) Research other implementations: Many schools have implemented 1:1 device programs across the country, some more successfully than others. Seek out examples from similar districts, including those in the same community.
3) Assess district readiness: There are a number of factors to consider including leadership, long-term funding, staff skillsets, training/professional development, enabling or hindering policies, device purchase vs. bring-your-own-device model, Internet connection and wireless capabilities, etc.
4) Hire a project manager and consult with experts: Topical and technical expertise could be beneficial to the project to bring outside perspective, experience, and knowledge of how to successfully implement the program.
5) Create a strategic plan: The strategic plan should outline the vision, research, and readiness work completed to date, and should also include goals and objectives, communications plans, finances, hardware and infrastructure, capacity building, benchmarking, and project timelines.
6) Develop a financial plan: A minimum five-year financial plan should be in place when implementation begins. Short and long-term funding should be considered as devices age, need maintenance and need replacing, and bandwidth increased.
7) Assess infrastructure needs: 1:1 device programs require robust infrastructure to support the connectivity of hundreds or thousands of new devices. Infrastructure issues include bandwidth, connectivity and access points, data systems, data management and storage, mobile device management, security and content filtering (if applicable), tech support and maintenance, etc.
Consider a pilot: Pilot programs help to demonstrate capabilities and help to work out bugs and test various solutions.
8) Ensure curriculum and pedagogy embrace technology: New technology brings new ways to deliver knowledge. Curriculum directors, teachers, and students should examine and research new ways to leverage student devices in and out of the classroom.
9) Develop/participate in collaborative and ongoing professional development: New technology and curriculum requires new and ongoing professional development for instructors. Professional development should follow a cycle of learning, discussing, testing, and adjusting until new curriculum and methods work for students.
K-12 Schools, Parents and Students, Internet Service Providers, Community Service Organizations, Libraries
One-to-One Institute’s Project RED: http://one-to-oneinstitute.org/introducing-project-red
University of Connecticut NEAG School of Education's Preparing a School District for a 1:1 Technology Initiative: https://education.uconn.edu/2018/06/06/preparing-a-school-district-for-a-11-technology-initiative-issue-brief/
Ten Rules for a Successful One-to-One Classroom: https://www.weareteachers.com/10-rules-for-a-successful-one-to-one-classroom/
Five Steps for Implementing a Successful 1:1 Environment: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/one-to-one-environment-andrew-marcinek
Host Website and Social Media Classes for Local Businesses
For small businesses, an online presence and the use of social media are vital to stay competitive in the twenty-first century. A website and social media are not just for companies that have the experience, staff, or budget; any small business can tap into these resources. Training should be provided to small businesses regarding the use of websites and social media within that small business. Website topics should range from starting a basic website to more advanced topics such as e-commerce. Social media topics should include a variety of social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn., Broadband empowers small businesses to achieve operational scale more quickly by lowering start-up costs through faster business registration and improved access to customers, suppliers, and new markets. According to Connected Nation’s 2012 Jobs and Broadband Report, businesses that are using the Internet bring in approximately $300,000 more in median annual revenues than their unconnected.
Encourage small local businesses to develop websites and to use social media, e-commerce, and other advanced uses of broadband and technology.
1) Work with the local chamber of commerce and/or libraries to expand existing programs that promote e-commerce, such as free websites and social media development, within the small businesses of the community.
2) Partner with providers to sponsor workshops. (ISPs may be willing to sponsor events since small-business workshops will likely lead to increases broadband adoption and use).
3) Identify regional and community partners with resources and expertise to assist the community in producing “free” website and social media workshops.
4) Schedule workshops and advertise classes via local media.
Chamber of commerce/economic development organization; Libraries; Community College; Broadband providers; IT/Technology organizations; Local SCORE representatives
The Creative Collective - social media training course: https://bit.ly/2VPByW6
On-Site Technology Training for Small, Rural Michigan Businesses: https://bit.ly/2Yh4zvL
The Importance of Tech for Small Businesses: https://bit.ly/2zL9Lha
Revenue Trends for Small Businesses: https://bit.ly/35jYBLQ
Google Helps Businesses Get Online with Free Resources: https://bit.ly/2VPbpa0
Boosting Business with an Online Presence: https://bit.ly/3aVxLuF
Building E-Commerce in Wright County, IA: https://bit.ly/2z2jPll
Identify and Expand Wireless Hotspots in the Community
To maximize the benefits that wireless hotspots provide, a community must ensure there are a sufficient number of hotspots available, along with a published inventory of the locations of each wireless hotspot. Wireless hotspots are classified as free or available for a fee. Hotspots are often found at restaurants, train stations, airports, libraries, hotels, hospitals, coffee shops, bookstores, fuel stations, department stores, supermarkets, RV parks and campgrounds, public pay phones, and other public places. Many universities and schools have wireless networks on their campuses as well.
Expand access to broadband by increasing the number of publicly-available Wi-Fi hotspots.
1) Develop an inventory of public Wi-Fi hotspots in the community Wi-Fi inventory
2) Conduct an analysis to identify key areas and organizations for the expansion of local wireless hotspots
3) The local Chamber of Commerce and tourism groups should promote the hotspots to ensure maximum visibility in the community
Community and business leaders; Civic leaders and organization members; Citizens; Local Government; Broadband Providers; Community Anchor Institutions
Mapping Community Wifi Access: http://tech.ed.gov/stories/mapping-community-wifi-access/
Community Wi-Fi – A Primer: http://www.cablelabs.com/community-wi-fi-a-primer/
Map of Wi-Fi hotspots in Illinois: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=23e8046edd2940bc8ad3ad1725e47cd0
Free Wi-Fi hotspot locator apps: https://www.lifewire.com/free-online-wifi-hotspot-locators-818276
Improve Public Safety Communications
Broadband offers a unique opportunity to achieve a comprehensive vision for enhancing the safety and security of your community’s residents. Broadband can help public safety personnel prevent emergencies and respond swiftly when they occur. Broadband can also provide your community with new ways of calling for help and receiving emergency information., For example, first responders from different jurisdictions and agencies often cannot communicate during emergencies due to disparate communication systems and the lack of integration between these systems. However, wireless broadband supports the interoperability of communications systems that would allow first responders anywhere in the nation to communicate with each other and send and receive critical voice and data to save lives, reduce injuries, and prevent acts of crime and terror., Furthermore, with broadband, 911 call centers (also known as public safety answering points or PSAPs) could receive texts, pictures, and videos from the public and relay them to first responders. Similarly, the government could use broadband networks to disseminate vital information to the public during emergencies in multiple formats and languages.
Leverage broadband technologies to enhance emergency communications to and from the public.
1) Create a working group to lead the initiative with representatives from all public safety entities, and policymakers.
2) Identify the current status of public safety communications infrastructure and policies.
3) Engage public safety solution providers and internet service providers to explore opportunities to address the identified shortcomings.
4) Identify funding opportunities.
5) Develop a plan for implementing the identified solutions and seek funding.
6) Engage the public to build awareness for new public safety services and assess the impact of the serivces. Adjust the implementation plan accordingly.
Public Safety Agencies, PSAP Operators, Local and County Government, Internet Service Providers, State and Local Interoperability Coordinators.
FirstNet: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/category/firstnet, Public Safety Communications http://psc.apcointl.org
Increase Download Speed in Libraries
The role of libraries as a community technology hub or as a facilitator of digital inclusion has never been more important. As the ability to use a computer has become a fundamental skill that enables individuals to engage with each other and access technology applications and services, libraries must not only make sure high-speed Internet is available, but ensure they have the bandwidth to support greater user experience. With the FCC recommending a minimum speed of 100 Mbps for serving smaller communities and 1 Gbps for libraries serving populations greater than 50,000 people, the community should develop a pathway for advancing speeds in local libraries.
To provide adequate bandwidth for library patrons.
1) Perform a technology assessment of the library system.
2) Develop a plan based on this data. This entails reviewing infrastructure, software, hardware, and related costs and barriers to expansion.
3) Perform speed tests during peak hours and downtown to get a better understanding of user experience at the library. To perform the speed test go to http://www.speedtest.net/.
4) Facilitate planning meetings with local providers to determine cost saving options while increasing speed.
5) Identify funding sources to pay for infrastructure updates and/or changes (e-Rate).
6) Incorporate technology needs in library’s annual budget/plan.
7) Review the library's technology needs periodically to ensure that resources remain up-to-date with the increasing needs of the community.
Libraries and library co-ops (if applicable); Schools; Broadband providers; Local and county governments
Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband Coalition report on broadband subsidies for anchor institutions: http://bit.ly/2dkF2qN
Measuring Library Broadband Networks for the National Digital Platform: https://www.internet2.edu/research-solutions/community-projects/measuring-library-broadband-networks/
The Challenges of Broadband in Rural Libraries: https://www.govtech.com/network/The-Challenges-of-Broadband-in-Rural-Libraries.html
University of Maryland's Digital Inclusion Survey: https://digitalinclusion.umd.edu/
Perform a Broadband Build-Out Analysis and Validate Demand for Broadband Service in Underserved Areas
Perform an analysis of unserved areas to understand local assets and any barriers to broadband deployment. The local team should solicit feedback from residents of the unserved territory on their demand.
Determine the reasons why some areas of the community remain unserved, determine the feasibility of deploying various Internet systems in the defined area, and generate a business case for deployment.
1. Field Validation: Conduct onsite visual assessments of the defined geographic areas unserved with broadband coverage. The assessment determines the feasibility of deploying various internet systems in a defined area. Gather site-specific information required for (i) determining use of existing infrastructure, (ii) designing wired and wireless internet system using these assets, and (iii) expanding the broadband coverage in the defined area.
2. Community Broadband Survey: Use the results of the Residential Technology Survey to identify pockets of demand in areas without service. Survey results can also provide information on currently adopted speeds and costs. Stakeholders can also elect to perform a door-to-door survey of residents who live in neighborhoods in the unserved area to determine exact need or in communities where more residential survey data is needed.
3. Market Analysis: A market analysis should also be performed to identify potential broadband providers, understand potential service offerings, and respective rates.
4. Investment: Results of the studies should be analyzed and released to providers to inform a business case for expansion or upgrades.
5. Conversations: Community broadband team members should include broadband providers in discussions of access expansion. Providers may have expansion plans that communities may not be aware of.
County and local units of government with high number of underserved households; Broadband providers; Residents and businesses
Guide to federal funding for broadband projects: https://bit.ly/2yXmgWB
Fiber to the Home Council toolkit for communities looking to expand broadband infrastructure: http://bit.ly/2d18QL6
Pure broadband builds access through cooperation: http://bit.ly/2cCgzBk
Building community broadband subscribership, from the University of Wisconsin: https://bit.ly/2KMqjYv
Perform an Analysis of Local Telecommunication Policies and Ordinances
High capital investment costs, including permit processing, pole attachment costs, and lack of effective planning and coordination with public authorities, negatively impact the case for deployment. For example, the FCC’s National Broadband Plan concludes that, “the rates, terms, and conditions for access to rights-of-way [including pole attachments] significantly impact broadband deployment.” The costs associated with obtaining permits and leasing pole attachments and rights-of-way is one of the most expensive cost functions in a service provider’s plans to expand or upgrade service, especially in rural markets where the ratio of poles to households goes off the charts. Furthermore, the process is time consuming. “Make ready” work, which involves moving wires and other equipment attached to a pole to ensure proper spacing between equipment and compliance with electric and safety codes, can take months to complete., Community and provider collaboration to problem solve around local pole attachment and other right-of-way issues is one of the most effective opportunities to encourage faster, new deployment of infrastructure.
Ensure that local policies and ordinances are conducive to wired and wireless broadband build-out.
1) Speak with providers and determine barriers they face at a local and county level.
2) Review local policies, ordinances, and other barriers to broadband deployment and consult with community leaders, providers, utilities, and other members of the community to ensure that they are supporting policies (local ordinances, pole attachments, rights-of-way) that are conducive to broadband build-out., Develop an awareness campaign targeting local government leaders to inform them of the benefits of broadband to the entire community.
3) Compare local policies to those in other communities where broadband build-out has been more successful.
4) Continue to review best practices regarding broadband build-out policies to determine that your community remains up-to-date on its policies.
Local units of government, particular planning and zoning officials; Broadband providers; County government, particular road commissions; Utility companies and pole owners; Others with right-of-way jurisdiction
Guide to best practices for reducing local barriers to broadband expansion: http://bit.ly/2d42Jcm
Cutting red tape for tower construction: http://bit.ly/2d71GG4
Model Codes for Municipalities from the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee: https://bit.ly/3bSv92c
Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure Deployment from the United States Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and The Office of Policy and Governmental Affairs: https://bit.ly/35jMBtN
Create a Telework Support and Attraction Program
Teleworking offers significant benefits to employers, employees, self-employed individuals, and entrepreneurs. Benefits include businesses’ infrastructure savings, emissions reduction, and congestion management. Further, teleworking can help businesses and government agencies reduce real estate, energy, and other overhead costs, using the savings to avoid job cuts or to hire new staff. Research has shown that teleworking programs can increase an employer’s productivity and enable it to continue operating without skipping a beat in the face of a natural disaster or other emergency situation that might otherwise bring business to a halt. Teleworking allows employees to lower their commuting costs, and accommodates people with disabilities, the elderly, working mothers, and rural residents who may not be in a position to work outside the home.It is unlikely that all employees will be able to telework. A good way to start is to identify types of positions or job types that can be performed remotely and initiate a trial period and track results. Get feedback from all involved regarding the benefits and challenges and fine-tune as needed.
Promote or develop flexible efficient and effective work arrangements.
1) Establish a cross-functional project team, including labor representatives, employers, educators, and other stakeholders.
2) Conduct assessment of teleworker and organization technology needs.
3) Identify eligibility criteria to ensure that teleworkers are selected on an equitable basis using criteria such as suitability of tasks and employee performance.
4) Promote the establishment of teleworking pilot programs among local employers.
5) Develop a telework agreement template for use between teleworkers and their managers.
6) Track changes to the teleworking needs among businesses and workers, adjusting the telework promotion to best suit your community’s current and future needs.
Businesses; Business organizations, (e.g., chambers of commerce, economic development corporations, associations, etc.); Citizens and interest groups
Building a Telework Program: https://bit.ly/3bUaNWf
Teleworking Brings Jobs Home: https://bit.ly/2KST8SN
Job Opportunities vita Digital Works Come to Cheboygan, MI: https://bit.ly/2So47YF
Publicly-Operated Telework Facilities: An Economic Development Opportunity for Michigan’s Rural and
Tourism-Oriented Communities: https://bit.ly/2YkoSID