Stirring the Pot: Maximizing community broadband

As originally posted on Blandin on Broadband

It is so interesting to review the Blandin on Broadband blog reports on county connectivity.  Many counties are making great progress on achieving the 100 Mb/20 Mb state goal.  The next big community challenge will be to maximize the value derived from this combination of significant investment by private and public sector partnerships. The question is how to move from being able to tell stories of individual people, businesses and institutions that are making great use of technology to a bigger story of widespread sophisticated use of the network for work, school, entrepreneurship, health care and social life; in essence, creating a world-class environment that retains and attracts people and investments.  It will take a major shift in mindset for community leaders to focus on this even more complex task.

The Intelligent Community framework provides a guide to measure this shift.  The six elements of Intelligent Community are: Broadband; Knowledge Workforce; Innovation; Digital Equality; Sustainability and Advocacy.  It is interesting to note that the MN Department of Economic Development now has key staff devoted to several of these topics.  The beauty of the Intelligent Community framework is that it helps break down the silos between these topic priorities.  Done right, there can be great synergies between these topics though it is sometimes difficult to knock down those institutional barriers.

Great thanks to those folks who attended one of Blandin Foundation’s Intelligent Community workshops this fall and special kudos to those who followed up with a submitted application to ICF.  Minnesota applications jumped from two to five.  Special recognition to Alexandria Lakes Area; Brainerd Lakes Area; East Central Minnesota – GPS 45:93; Koochiching County; and City of Winthrop. Communities can still submit the benchmarking questionnaire at any time and receive their benchmarking report shortly after. When you do so, you will see how your community stacks up compared to 400 other communities around the world.

We all know that broadband does not get deployed in rural places with strong community effort.  It will take that same level of effort to achieve the full benefits of the network.

 

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