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Broadband Access Topic of Summit

Broadband Access Topic of Summit 

In June, Alliance & Chamber Director of Business Services, Nate Clayberg attended the annual Connect Iowa Broadband Summit.  The conference was attended by community and school administrators, economic developers, communications industry executives, representatives from John Deere and Gov. Terry Branstad.

Data was presented at the conference that shows the main barriers for broadband adoption by Iowans are perceived lack of relevance, cost, and digital literacy.  In the survey 31% of those surveyed did not see relevance to being connected by broadband, and a third of those were rural residents of the state.  Cost was most relevant to low income families with children, and the minority population saw digital literacy as their biggest barrier to adopting broadband access. It was noted that 113,000 school-age children in Iowa still do not have broadband access at home.

John Deere Manager of Spectrum Advocacy Mark Lewellen gave the keynote presentation at the conference to show the importance of wireless broadband networks expansion in rural areas for the next level of farming in the U.S.  John Deere equipment currently comes with data modems installed as standard equipment, but he notes that feature is not as valuable if it cannot connect to a network.  He said with the growing demand for more food, fuel and feed to support a growing global population, efficiencies in agriculture production are a must to support this demand.  Deere’s FarmSight technology system is being designed to help farmers become more productive and profitable with precision agriculture techniques, but connecting to mobile broadband is key to making the system run effectively for their customers.  Watch “The Future of Farming is in Sight” 

The increased broadband demand in our rural areas, especially mobile access, will be a great driver to help our rural areas sustain and possibly grow population and businesses that require digital connection to the world for business and personal access.  This plays especially well for the rural school districts, many of which are offering one to one digital learning with tablets and laptops for students to use at school and at home.  Howard-Winneshiek School District Superintendent John Carver presented to the conference on how the school is using technology to connect across their 462 square mile district, the second largest in the state.  But he faces challenges in his smaller rural communities that have limited access for not only their school buildings but the homes of their students as well.  It makes it challenging for students to complete assignments with a weaker broadband infrastructure in those areas. Carver discussed a couple interesting requests he has to the state education department in regards to their one to one digital access. Can they eliminate snow days by having teachers connect with students on those days that personnel and pupils cannot make it to their school buildings? And why is there a state law against mobile broadband hotspots on school buses? A feature that would help Howard-Winn students that spend time on buses commuting from home to school. He is awaiting a response to these questions as it relates to an ever changing digital world.

  • The Cedar Valley is leading the way in broad accessibility and acceptance. In February of 2014, Governor Branstad recognized Black Hawk County as the fourth community to become a Certified Connected Community in the state and 20th in the nation.
  • In May of 2014 Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU) announced 1-Gig service to every home and every business in the city making Cedar Falls Iowa’s first ‘Gigabit City.’ Mediacom also provides gigabit fiber accessible to the entire Cedar Valley Region.
  •  Learn more at  www.connectiowa.org

Governor Branstad Recognizes Black Hawk County as Iowa’s Fourth Certified Connected Community

 

Community releases new technology action plan designed to increase technology use, promote economic development

 

CEDAR FALLS –  Today, Governor Terry Branstad and Black Hawk County and Connect Iowa officials recognized Black Hawk County as the fourth community to become a Certified Connected Community in the state and 20th in the nation. More than thirty-five residents and community leaders attended the celebration event at the Cedar Falls Utilities building where results of an assessment and details of the county’s new technology action plan were unveiled.

“Last fall, we announced our initiative to Connect Every Iowan, with the goal of making Iowa the ‘Most Connected State in the Midwest.’ The communities that will thrive in this new economy are those which take every opportunity to organize and plan to continually improve their technological capabilities. We’re here today because that is precisely what Black Hawk County has done,” said Governor Branstad.

Connect Iowa’s Connected Community Engagement Program provides a framework that communities can use to work toward Governor Branstad’s goal to Connect Every Iowan. In October 2013, he announced that the Connect Every Iowan initiative would leverage the Connected Community Engagement Program to support local broadband planning efforts in communities across the state.

“This accomplishment would not have been possible without everyone’s involvement, and I must commend the hard work and effort that this group has put towards the project over the past couple of years. This being said, Connected certification does not mark the end of a project, but rather the first step towards our community’s future,” said Kevin Blanshan, executive director of INRCOG and community champion for the technology planning team.

The Black Hawk County Technology Team has been working the past two years with Connect Iowa to assess the local broadband landscape, identify gaps, and establish actionable goals and objectives to increase broadband access, adoption, and use for families, organizations, and businesses throughout the county. The Technology Action Plan includes actionable projects and objectives for Black Hawk County to increase digital literacy, promote and expand broadband service within the community, and increase utilization of technology resources in the community.  Residents and businesses are encouraged to visit the community technology profile on the website and help project leaders populate a directory of technology assets in the county.

The program is a national model designed by Connect Iowa’s parent organization, Connected Nation, to establish a framework for broadband expansion planning at the community level. The Connect Iowa initiative is funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce NTIA State Broadband Initiative program. Connect Iowa is working to facilitate the access, adoption, and use of technology throughout the state to create a better business environment, more effective community and economic development, improved healthcare, more efficient government, enhanced education, and improved quality of life.

 

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About Connect Iowa: Connect Iowa is a subsidiary of Connected Nation and operates as a nonprofit in the state of Iowa to promote broadband access, adoption, and use. The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is leading the initiative to increase broadband Internet access throughout rural Iowa. Connect Iowa was commissioned by the state to work with all broadband providers in Iowa to create detailed maps of broadband coverage and develop a statewide plan for the deployment and adoption of broadband. For more information visit: www.connectiowa.org.

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The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a regional economic community development corporation working to increase economic vitality and wealth in the Waterloo / Cedar Falls area and surrounding economic region. The Alliance & Chamber has approximately 800 members that represents over 40,000 employees