Broadband Communities

NOV-DEC 2018

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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COMMUNITY BROADBAND 3 0 | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 Tools and Best Practices For Community Connectivity Communities can follow these guidelines to assess their broadband needs, encourage public support for broadband, simplify their permitting practices and more. By Next Century Cities e following is an excerpt from Next Century Cities' forthcoming Toolkit for Next Century Communities, which will be available in January at E very community is unique in its connectivity needs and goals. ere are certain practices and policies, however, that every community can adopt to help it create a local environment rich in broadband resources. Next Century Cities' upcoming toolkit is a first-stop resource for any community that seeks to improve access to broadband, facilitate 5G deployment and ensure that all are connected. Often, local communities don't realize the abundant resources they possess – physical assets and human capital – that they can use to advance connectivity for institutions, businesses and residents. For example, local communities can prepare for deployment at any stage by adopting dig-once policies, passing ordinances that require developers to install conduit for future deployment and maintaining up-to-date, accurate mapping of resources. Cities and counties that have embraced these policies include Brentwood, California; Mount Vernon, Washington; and Dakota County, Minnesota. As local governments adopt policies for better connectivity, technology continues to evolve. New 5G technology now demands proactive work from communities to foster leadership, increase community engagement and simplify permitting and leasing practices. IDENTIFY COMMUNITY NEEDS AND GOALS A long list of local elected officials, administrators and economic development professionals can attest to the fact that an initiative to bring better internet access to a local community isn't a quick or easy process. A patient, strategic approach begins by diagnosing specific problems that a community wants to solve with high-quality internet access. Creating specific goals that align with a vision for the community ensures that true needs will be addressed. Rather than basing decisions on assumptions they have about the needs of local residents, local leaders need to put trust in the communities and learn actual needs from those residents. e "build with, not for" principle puts the people of the community at the center of the initiative. is philosophy puts community residents first and strives to meet the actual needs of residents, as opposed to the needs that leaders assume exist. To successfully "build with," leaders must build trust in the communities that they aim to serve. GROW SUPPORT FROM LOCAL ROOTS Whether a community envisions a municipal network or seeks to attract private-sector investment to improve local connectivity, bottom-up support is crucial. If people in the community are informed, asked to weigh in and encouraged to participate in the community discussion, they're more likely to be engaged in the process. Transparency in the form of open meetings, casual events, and access to information helps keep the public interested and involved in the community's decisions moving forward. e forthcoming toolkit dives deep into the factors that drive civic engagement in broadband initiatives. One of the many resources available in the toolkit is a checklist with suggestions for ways to grow local involvement. ese include the following: • Use the convening power of the city, town or county to bring together stakeholder groups for conversation, information sharing and brainstorming. • Consider the anchor institutions, community groups and local businesses that could help involve residents in a discussion about broadband. • Identify individuals who are trusted members of their community (faith-based leaders, activists, nonprofit staff, etc.). Seek their advice and keep them well informed about the process and progress. • Brainstorm methods of communication that make sense for your municipality and your community (for example, an email newsletter, a Facebook page, mailings, etc.). • Create a communications plan that is consistent, transparent and inclusive. In Fort Collins, Colorado, local advocates for publicly owned broadband infrastructure found that combining informational meetings with the city's craft beer culture helped engage and educate locals. e Broadband and Beers meetings gave birth to local support that overcame intense

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