BTOP in Action
BTOP recipient Tincan celebrated the opening of its new media lab and film production facility on June 8, 2010, in Spokane, Wash. Over 200 people attended the opening ceremony and open house, including mayors from nearby towns and representatives from the offices of U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and others. Many local businesses and vendors also participated. The new space will house the Tincan offices, a 32-computer media lab for training and workshops, and a full professional video production studio. As of October 2010, Tincan had distributed computers and software to Peaceful Valley Community Center, Northeast Community Center, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Outreach Center for public access use. These locations and others will provide access to the Internet for people who do not otherwise have access, and new spaces where Tincan can provide training in Internet skills.
Last Updated: October 18, 2011
The Nebraska Library Commission upgraded more than 140 PCCs at libraries throughout the state. These new resources provide computer access, employment resources, and assistance with government services for communities with low broadband penetration and median incomes below the national average. As of June 30, 2013, the commission deployed approximately 735 new workstations. Fifty libraries upgraded their broadband speeds as a result of equipment and assistance provided by the commission. At these upgraded facilities, the average speed increased from 1.8 to 7.4 Mbps. Along with these new computer resources, the commission also used BTOP funds to conduct new digital literacy and workforce training, providing a wide variety of classes and support including computer basics, job searching, and resume creation. Through June 2013, more than 27,000 users on average visited the libraries each week, and more than 30,000 residents participated in training.
The New Jersey State Library (NJSL), an affiliate of Thomas Edison State College, enrolled more than 6,500 students in more than 2,800 hours of job-readiness computer skills workshops in public libraries across New Jersey. This initiative is designed to help unemployed and underemployed residents acquire the skills needed to find and retain a job. The libraries are providing free access to broadband, workforce development classes, and career advancement tools.
NJSL used BTOP funds to deploy more than 845 new computers at 125 public libraries and upgrade broadband connectivity at 86 public libraries. Along with free access to these workstations, the libraries offer workforce development classes on topics such as computer fundamentals, resume and cover letter techniques, job search fundamentals, and email basics. The libraries also provide free access to career databases and applications that help users explore careers, find and apply for jobs, improve interviewing skills, and track job search progress.
NJSL also provides resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs to foster entrepreneurship, and help existing businesses make lasting and substantial improvements in their performance. At the libraries, community residents can access online business and marketing tools and in-depth market research reports.
In addition to job training classes for residents, NJSL is partnering with the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development to provide professional development workshops and specialized training for library staff members seeking to advance their careers. Librarians learn techniques for managing computer resources, allowing them to better meet their patrons’ technology requests. NJSL has conducted 221 hours of training for its library staff and more than 20 hours of in-person workshops for approximately 100 librarians on how to use career tools and applications that can help library patrons.
Local librarians have seen many of their patrons acquire jobs after taking career building and digital literacy courses. For example, a visitor to the Mount Laurel Public Library lost his job in 2008. He enrolled in the library’s workforce development workshops in 2010 and, using skills he learned in the workshops, was able to find a new job online. A resident of Garfield, N.J., also took a computer course at the Garfield Public Library, acquiring computer skills that she needed to obtain a part-time position as a Product Demonstrator. Libraries across the state are seeing similar successes of how broadband can improve a person’s economic situation.
Last updated: April 17, 2012.
The Toledo Telephone Company, in partnership with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, has helped more than 300 community members learn basic computer functionality, Internet, and email skills through intensive classes. Upon successful completion of the course, participants also receive a laptop and two years of free broadband service.
Based on the success of the initial program, Toledo Telephone Company expanded their course offerings to include an auxiliary course to 40 additional participants each month. The auxiliary course’s curriculum covers a wide variety of topics, including Microsoft ® Office productivity software. When several senior citizen community members expressed an interested in learning how to share digital photos, Toledo Telephone Company also developed an Adobe ® Photoshop course.
All of these classes are part of a countywide initiative to increase broadband adoption through computer equipment and digital literacy education relevant to the Lewis County community and Cowlitz tribal members. Some community members that have successfully completed the course have implemented their computer knowledge in the workplace. One participant, who previously hand wrote her column for a local Toledo newspaper, now composes her article using her laptop and submits by email.
Last Updated: December 7, 2011
On December 5, 2011, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library reopened a newly renovated public computer center. The renovation of the Kent Branch @ccess Center included upgrading 109 computers, increasing broadband speeds and enhancing career-building resources. Since the opening, the center now offers free workforce development workshops and mentoring sessions to help individuals acquire the skills needed to find and retain jobs.
The @ccess Center has been able to acquire SMART® Board interactive whiteboards, build a new research lab for group collaboration, and offer classes to help visitors become more competitive in today’s digital job market. The whiteboards allow instructors and students to digitally write on the board and interact with digital training materials. The center offers a wide variety of classes to help visitors develop digital literacy and workforce skills, including classes in computer basics, Internet fundamentals, and productivity software, such as Microsoft® Office, resume creation and interview preparation.
The @ccess Center is also providing classes on how to find and apply for jobs online since many Toledo-Lucas County businesses in Toledo-Lucas County are recruiting online. The @ccess Center provides workshops and individual assistance with job searching, email basics, and online applications. The center has already helped many of its visitors apply and interview for jobs at local manufacturing plants, as well as a newly opened casino, since each of these businesses has moved their hiring practices online
The library’s ultimate goal is to help Toledo-Lucas County residents improve their lives through computer resources and educational opportunities. In addition to the @ccess Center, the library funded the Cybermobile, a state-of-the-art mobile technology center complete with broadband Internet access. Funded by BTOP, this “classroom on wheels” is equipped with 12 desktop computers and provides broadband and digital literacy training to residents who are unable to commute to the @ccess Center.
Troy Cablevision, Inc. connected approximately 140 community anchor institutions to its network through June 2013. Troy’s Southeast Alabama SmartBand -Rural Broadband for Economic Development and Energy Management project is deploying a 474-mile fiber optic network to provide broadband infrastructure in six southeast Alabama counties: Pike, Crenshaw, Coffee, Dale, Montgomery, and Dothan. Community anchor institutions in the six counties, including public safety entities, K-12 schools, libraries, community colleges, healthcare facilities, and government buildings, typically lack Internet access at the speeds necessary to provide key services like Next Generation 911, distance learning, and telemedicine. Troy Cablevision also formed a public-private partnership with the South Alabama Electric Cooperative to enable advanced “smartgrid” energy management services for approximately 17,000 electricity consumers in Crenshaw, Pike, and Coffee counties, significantly improving energy efficiency in the region. Troy plans to support economic growth by providing redundant fiber rings, including two backhaul routes to Atlanta, enabling the high-capacity, reliablebroadband capabilities required to attract businesses to the region.
In March 2011, the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID), also known as Internet2, began upgrading its advanced middle-mile backbone network in support of the United States Unified Community Anchor Network (U.S. UCAN) project. Extending across 50 states, this upgraded network will enable high-speed broadband connectivity for up to 121,000 additional community anchor institutions. The project is a large-scale, public-private partnership that will interconnect more than 30 existing research and education networks, creating a dedicated fiber-optic backbone that will enable advanced broadband capabilities such as video multicasting, telemedicine, distance learning, and other life-changing Internet-based applications. UCAID’s BTOP-funded fiber-optic network will also offer more than 8.8 TBps of capacity.
As of July 2011, UCAID has upgraded and activated more than 4,828 miles of its proposed 16,312 mile fiber network. In addition, UCAID anticipates the first coast-to-coast links, from New York City to Sunnyvale, Calif., to be installed and operational this summer with the entire network expected to be completed by early 2013.
In addition to the network infrastructure, UCAID also initiated outreach and awareness-building activities to demonstrate how advanced broadband applications and services could be deployed throughout the United States. In April 2011, UCAID hosted an annual two-day conference meeting in Arlington, VA, where more than 65 members attended to receive a status update on the project’s construction efforts and learned about the new services the organization will provide through the advanced network.
Last Updated: October 18, 2011
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is breaking down the digital divide in remote villages across the state, using a three-prong approach to increase sustainable broadband adoption. Through the Bridging the E-Skills Gap project, the university partners with approximately 20 non-profit, educational, and for-profit organizations to create distance learning, public safety, and telehealth opportunities.
For example, the Alaska Library Network provides free access to two new distance learning tools at state libraries. The first, Live Homework Help, is an online educational portal that offers live homework tutors to K-12 students seven days a week. The second, the Testing Educational Reference Center, is an online resource where patrons can access study guides, practice tests, and tutoring videos for school entrance and career certification exams. Library visitors can use the tool to prepare for tests, such as the GED, SAT, and the Reciprocal Electrician Journeyman License exam.
Another project partner, the Family Centered Services of Alaska, installed two video conference centers in Fairbanks to provide distance learning classes, professional development workshops, and even family therapy sessions to low-income families. The Alaska Postsecondary Commission is in the process of creating the College and Career Guide, an online portal that allows students to develop career plans, research and apply to colleges and postsecondary institutions, and find scholarships and other financial aid. Yet another project partner, the Alaska Native Tribal Consortium, offers a Telehealth Coordinator Certification Program for medical professionals. This three-course program helps individuals become certified workers skilled in the use and application of telehealth applications and videoconferencing equipment.
The University also created the Digital Storytelling-Performance Literacy program to teach K-12 students how to digitally write and tell their own culturally relevant stories. For example, Angoon, Alaska, is a small village with a population of less than 500 people, the majority of whom identify as Tlingit Indians. The Digital Storytelling program taught K-12 students at Angoon City Schools how to turn their stories into podcasts and share them with family members and friends around the country. This program improves the familiarity of students with computers and mobile devices, and encourages participants to use broadband technology to stay connected with loved ones.
So far, the University has encouraged more than 7,800 households and nearly 900 businesses to subscribe to broadband service.
The University of Arkansas System deployed more than 2,200 miles of fiber through June 2013. The Arkansas e-Link project is integrating two existing, previously unconnected networks, the Arkansas Telehealth Network and the Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network (AREON). It is providing upgraded broadband and/or equipment to more than 420 community anchor institutions in order to create a comprehensive statewide network for healthcare, higher education, research, and public safety services.
Through Arkansas e-Link, rural patients receive real-time consultation from medical specialists through interactive video telemedicine, allowing local doctors to collaborate with medical specialists to manage complex conditions. For instance, OB-GYN specialists in Little Rock are available to provide treament, diagnoses, and prenatal care protocols before the delivery of a baby at a remote clinic. After delivery, the local doctor and specialist collaborate on high-risk cases to determine if a Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) transportation to a Little Rock Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is necessary for either the infant or mother. This collaboration is critical to save lives and reduce medical costs as the cost of transportation is approximately $25,000 per instance.
In addition, BTOP funds are used to help fund the Arkansas SAVES (Stroke Assistance through Virtual Emergency Support) program. With telemedicine, patients suffering from stroke symptoms receive life-saving, specialized treatment from a neurologist at another location. One patient from Searcy, Arkansas, said, “I didn't know anything about the SAVES program, but I am so thankful it was there for me…I went back to teaching a month after the stroke; I’m fine. The doctor said it was as if I had never had the stroke.”
The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) increased institutional adoption of broadband services offered by the California Telehealth Network (CTN). UC Davis developed 60 online lessons to support transitions to technology-enabled health care, and more than 450 individuals accessed the material through the eHealth Training website. Additionally, eHealth course content created for nursing, medical assistant, and computer information sciences students was available for community college faculty to reference in the development of their own curriculum. Instructors had also accessed content such as Technical Project Management and the Importance of Broadband for Health Care Delivery. UC Davis also engaged consumers by installing ExploreHealth kiosks in community anchor sites. The kiosks are web-based portals that helped users access health information on the Internet.