BTOP in Action
Montana State Library opened two new public computer centers at libraries in the cities of Butte and Billings. These centers support a statewide effort to provide affordable broadband, computer skills, and workforce development training to senior citizens, job seekers, and young adults. Each library provides new computers and digital literacy classes that are tailored specifically to the needs of its patrons.
In December 2010, damage from a fire caused the Butte-Silver Bow Public Library to close and open a temporary site in the Butte Plaza Mall. Along with traditional library services, visitors to the site can access broadband Internet on new laptops and workstations. Patrons also can attend a variety of digital literacy classes supported by BTOP funds, including computer basics, Internet fundamentals, and email techniques.
The temporary site, deemed the Library’s “South Branch,” was able to provide library services to its community members while the main branch underwent renovations. As of June 2011, more than 579 community members participated in the South Branch’s 53 digital literacy workshops and approximately 2,000 users each month utilize the new workstations. Additionally, a survey of visitors revealed a desire to make the facility permanent even after the main Butte-Silver library became fully operational. The Butte-Silver Library has been able to meet the needs of its community and keep computer centers at both libraries fully operational. The main library houses 10 new workstations and offers digital literacy trainings.
The Montana State University Billings College of Technology’s computer center offers 20 new laptops that patrons can use to search for jobs, learn computer basics, and work on school-related assignments. Visitors also can participate in digital literacy classes that cover topics such as computer basics and Microsoft Windows® software fundamentals. This community library is a joint academic-public library project between Montana State University and Parmly Billings Library.
The Montana State Library is working to provide more access to broadband Internet at faster speeds to 42 local libraries in 29 counties across the state within reach of 86 percent of Montana’s population. To sustain broadband adoption across the state, the project is deploying approximately 195 new computers and upgrading another 149 in 42 local libraries across 29 counties. As of June 2011, 328 new and refurbished computers have been distributed, serving more than 16,220 users per week. Participating libraries also partner with local organizations to create targeted marketing campaigns that will reach local constituents. For example, the Butte-Silver Bow Library partnered with AARP to promote its computer skills classes and increase participation among senior residents.
Last Updated: October 17, 2011
The Central Coast Broadband Consortium Public Computing Alliance, led by the Monterey County Office of Education, is working to open three new public computer centers, improve 26 existing centers, and offer free training to residents of California’s Salinas River Valley region. The Alliance, made up of education organizations, libraries, and other community organizations, hopes that improved broadband access will help address the needs of an area where over half of the population speaks a language other than English at home, and high school graduation rates are low.
On May 4, 2011, Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue joined the Alliance to celebrate the reopening of the Chinatown Community Learning Center. The Center’s 16 lab stations are used to provide free training classes to the community. Classes include an introduction to the digital world as well as classes for Spanish speakers and job seekers. The Center also offers classes for the local homeless population. Students say the Center feels like a community and that classes are creating opportunities for them, helping them to advance and rejoin the workforce.
The Alliance’s primary public computer center is located at the Media Center for Art, Education and Technology (MCAET) in Salinas. In addition, MCAET is launching a mobile digital classroom by September 2011. The semi-tractor trailer truck will travel throughout the Salinas Valley to provide digital media and computer classes to students of all ages. Additional public computer centers and community partners offer training including basic computer and Internet skills, word processing, animation, web design, digital photography, and audio and video production.
Last Updated: October 17, 2011.
In April 2011, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) began construction on more than 110 miles of aerial fiber-optic cable, initiating the first phase of a five-phase project. NTUA started stringing the first mile of aerial fiber in Tohatchi, N.M., and plans to run the network lines to its district office in Shiprock, N.M.
In total, NTUA will activate 570 miles of fiber-optic network lines and 59 microwave towers to offer connection speeds between 1 and 3 Mbps. These technologies, deployed in northern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico, will cover more than 70 percent of the 27,000 square miles of the Navajo Nation homeland where most residents only have dial-up connections to the Internet. Once the project is completed, NTUA will make broadband Internet service available to as many as 30,000 households, 1,000 businesses, and 1,100 anchor institutions located throughout the Navajo Nation.
The tribal utility authority is training its employees, which are Navajo Nation citizens, to install and maintain these new Internet technologies. For example, NTUA is working with its technology suppliers and partners to use classroom instruction, webinars, mentors, coaches, and hands-on training to sustain the infrastructure once construction is complete. Currently, seven NTUA personnel are dedicated to building and learning how to sustain this infrastructure; NTUA anticipates it will need up to 12 staff to maintain the infrastructure in the future. In addition, NTUA and Diné College (the Navajo Nation college) have set up a program to educate Navajo citizens on managing new technologies, such as fiber-optic lines and LTE wireless towers.
Last Updated October 18, 2011.
The New Mexico State Library’s Fast Forward New Mexico project recently commenced digital literacy and small business development training sessions at eight of its 17 public and tribal libraries throughout the state. These libraries included the Octavia Fellin Public Library in Gallup, Thomas Branigan Memorial Library in Las Cruces, South Broadway Public Library and South Valley Public Library in Albuquerque, as well as the Aztec Public Library, Columbus Village Library, Socorro Public Library, and Rio Rancho Public Library.
In each of these communities, Fast Forward offers eight free classes on building basic computer and Internet skills, teaching participants how to become successful online students, as well as helping cultural entrepreneurs (e.g., musicians, jewelers, and writers) and other small businesses through the use of online tools. Since many small businesses in rural New Mexico do not have websites, these classes are important because they teach participants how to set up an online presence, develop a larger strategy for reaching out to the online community, and increase revenue through e-commerce.
Each class includes eight hours of training with about two hours of open lab time for up to 15 members of the local community. Fast Forward also tailors some of the classes to meet the needs of the local unserved and underserved communities. For example, Fast Forward offered classes with a Navajo translator at two libraries close to the Navajo Reservation and classes in Spanish were offered in Columbus, Albuquerque, and Las Cruces due to the large Spanish-speaking population.
Last Updated: October 18, 2011.
The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) and the New York City Department of Education (DOE) launched the NYC Connected Learning Program in 56 low income middle schools across New York City. The program is a citywide initiative to boost sustainable broadband adoption and enhance educational outcomes among sixth grade students and their families. DoITT and DOE partner with a range of non- and for- profit organizations to promote broadband adoption by families and in schools, which includes providing free computers for academic purposes after attending a four-hour digital literacy training course, as well as offering discounted broadband service and technical support.
Computers for Youth (CFY), a national non-profit focused on improving the educational learning environments for low-income children, hosts Family Learning Workshops at these schools, teaching students and their parents about the educational uses of home technology and broadband. CFY also provides participants with a broadband-ready Home Learning Center, broadband enrollment guidance, and access to high-quality, online educational software focused on math, English, social studies, and science. The program’s professional development partners, Teaching Matters and the Australian United States Services in Education (AUSSIE), provide each school with an Instructional Technology Coach (ITC) responsible for training teachers to use computers to enhance classroom activities. The program also provides teachers with digital literacy curricula through its partnership with Common Sense Media. NYC Connected Learning partners with The City University of New York (CUNY) and MOUSE Squad to help schools set up a student-run help desk that provides technical support and general troubleshooting. NYC Connected Learning participants also receive discounted rates for high speed Internet from Cablevision and Time Warner Cable.
As of June 2013, approximately 76,400 students and family members have participated in the program. NYC Connected Learning participants also receive discounted rates for high-speed Internet from Cablevision and Time Warner Cable. The program has resulted in nearly 9,700 families subscribing to broadband and trained more than 1,300 teachers on the program’s resources and training curriculum. By the end of the project, the NYC Connected Learning program will be operational in 72 schools.
The New York State Education Department opened computer learning centers in 13 libraries across upstate New York. These centers are supporting a statewide initiative to provide affordable broadband, computer skills, and workforce development training to senior citizens, job seekers, and small-business owners. Each library provides new computers, free access to a wide variety of online journals, reports, and databases, and educational classes that are tailored specifically to the needs of its patrons.
Visitors to the Baldwinsville Public Library can attend classes covering a wide range of subjects including computer basics, Internet security and safety, Facebook and Skype, and Microsoft Office® software. The library provides one-on-one resume and cover letter assistance and will also begin a series of workforce development speaking seminars in April 2011. Aimed at small business owners, these presentations will cover topics such as following correct tax codes, advertising with local media, and applying for health insurance.
Patrons at the Western Sullivan Public Library can participate in numerous classes covering topics such as computer basics, Microsoft Windows® software fundamentals, Microsoft Office® software tips, and virus prevention. The library also offers computer assistance sessions allowing visitors to walk in and receive help with troubleshooting issues.
These libraries are some of the examples of how BTOP funds are making an impact across the state. The project is also creating a total of 76 new library positions for local residents. As of February 2011, the Education Department has filled more than 46 of these positions.
To see local news coverage about Western Sullivan Public Library, please visit here.
Last Updated: October 18, 2011.
The Nez Perce Tribe deployed 216 miles of wireless infrastructure across its 1,200 square mile Reservation located in north central Idaho as part of the Nez Perce Tribe Reservation Broadband Enhancement project. The project provided broadband capacity in previously underserved rural communities.
The Nez Perce Tribe’s reservation-wide broadband network has connected 17 community anchor institutions, including three libraries within the Prairie River Library District. “Enhanced telecommunications have increased access to e-government and learning resources that were previously unavailable due to insufficient bandwidth. Our ability to serve our public has significantly improved,” stated the Library Director for the District.
In addition to libraries, the Nez Perce Tribe improved connections to city, county, and tribal government facilities across the region including Northwest Indian College, Lewis-Clark State College Orofino Outreach Center, Culdesac, and rural first-responder public safety organizations. Silas Whitman, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee stated, “It has been wonderful to see how successful this effort has been under this grant as it has opened up access to the internet that was not previously available. The hope is that this expanded capacity will promote economic development on the reservation as well as raise the standard of living for both tribal and non-tribal members in this area.”
The North Central New Mexico Economic Development District deployed a total of 142 miles of fiber through June 2013. The Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI Net) is deploying fiber-optic cable to improve broadband connectivity across Rio Arriba, Los Alamos, and northern Santa Fe counties, as well as four Native American tribal communities. The network will connect and provide increased access with speeds upwards of 100 Mbps to approximately 115 community anchor institutions through local service providers, including rural healthcare providers, schools, public safety institutions, and higher education institutions. REDI Net has already signed agreements with three service providers, and helped to drive economic development in this primarily rural area by providing opportunities for access to businesses and households. More than 100 community anchor institutions are benefitting from improved broadband speeds and services.
In June 2011, the North Florida Broadband Authority began construction on Phase I of the Ubiquitous Middle Mile project. Extending across 14 counties designated as Rural Areas of Critical Economic Concern (RACEC) by the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development (OTTED), the new 1,200-mile fixed wireless broadband network enable high-speed broadband connectivity to as many as 150,000 households, 27,000 businesses, and 1,400 community anchor institutions including public schools, universities, libraries, healthcare facilities, public safety organizations, and government agencies. The network will also allow residents, businesses, and service providers to connect to the Internet with speeds up to 1 Gbps.
The North Florida Broadband Authority, a newly formed government entity established specifically for the purpose of bringing broadband services to the North Florida region, estimates the entire new fiber network will be completed by spring 2012. Once complete, North Florida will market its full suite of broadband services to Internet service providers at wholesale prices.
The organization is also developing training curriculum to prepare and educate residents about the new broadband network. Partnering with OTTED, North Florida will facilitate workshops across the RACEC counties to teach residents how to connect to the network through their local Internet service providers. BTOP funds have allowed North Florida to hire 12 full-time employees for construction. North Florida estimates it will hire an additional 20 full-time employees for construction and project administration in July 2011.
Last Updated October 18, 2011.
Steaming from collaboration among community development professionals, the North Georgia Network Cooperative (NGN) is using BTOP funds to enable a new technology-based economy in the North Georgia foothills.
By March 2011, NGN began construction on the 260-mile core of its planned 800-mile fiber optic network. As of May, 24 workers have installed more than 80 miles of fiber optic cable along the core network, deploying eight to 10 miles per week on average in the rural Georgia counties of Rabun, Towns, Union and White.
This core network is slated for completion by late fall 2011 and will deliver broadband speeds as fast as in most major metropolitan areas in the United States. NGN also will establish point-of-presence locations at county school systems, have a presence at a major university in the region, and improve broadband Internet speeds to offer 1 Gbps connections to most areas. In addition, several hundred miles of lateral lines will be built out from the core, making broadband more readily available to more than 42,000 households, 9,200 businesses, and 350 community anchor institutions.
The project also has a page on Twitter with the latest news.
Last Updated October 18, 2011.