Broadband For Local Governments
Welcome to the Louisiana Broadband Initiative webpage for local governments, or rather, welcome to the greatest foray into interconnectivity since the building of the interstate highways. While at first this may seem like a farfetched comparison to use for broadband internet, once you have witnessed the transformations broadband internet has caused, you might think differently.
First, consider the historical effects of the interstate highways. Before construction started on the Interstate highways in the 1950s, the only way to travel from one end of the country to the other was by train, plane, or by driving through hundreds of short state roads. These state roads often had many intersections and you drove at slower speeds. It was inefficient and time consuming, although many small shops benefitted by having the many travelers stop by along their routes. After the highways were constructed, drivers found that they suddenly did not have to worry about the hassle that the smaller roads offered. A more direct route and a faster driving speed meant they could get to where they were going in less time with less stops. Unfortunately, this also affected businesses that relied on their out-of-state guests for income and sustainment. Many towns died from a lack of income and consumer interest. A great example of this would be along Route 66, a once popular route for many travelers heading west. It served to transport migrants from the Dust Bowl of the Midwest, and it transported troops during World War II. Now, the only thing keeping areas along the “Mother Road” functioning is tourism.
Now consider broadband internet. Before the internet if people wanted to communicate, they sent information through the postal service or used telephones. If a local business wished to spread their business, it was by word of mouth or by advertising in newspapers or on billboards. If students needed to do research for school, they went to the library. If the government wished to get information out to their citizens, they put up posters, announced events in the news, mailed out fliers etc. In today’s world of internet, if anyone, including a government wishes to communicate effectively or quickly with its citizens, it is more likely than not going to use some form of electronic communication whether it is through emails, a personal website, or a public site such as facebook or twitter. One of the greatest appeals that broadband internet has to offer is its ability to get information out quickly, efficiently, and to many people, not just in your own area, but also around the world! Because of this, society is moving at a much faster pace than it ever has before in history resulting in towns without broadband internet to fall behind.
When you consider adopting broadband for your area, consider the needs of whom you are representing. 60% of Louisiana citizens have broadband internet in their homes. In the entire United States, 68% of the population uses some form of high-speed broadband internet service. Over two thirds of the population is using a utility that allows them high-speed access to just about any information, help, or entertainment desired. Convenience is literally at their fingertips. Many of these people are also ones that are capable of living somewhere less densely populated than cities such as retiring baby boomers and people who work from home. All they need is access to a regional airport or a way to communicate with families and friends they leave behind. Fortunately, just about every place in Louisiana is within two hours of a regional airport. So, if your area also has broadband internet, then you could potentially advertise to this fresh source of residents.
Then there is the other 40% of the population to consider. Forty percent of Louisiana citizens are unable to keep up with the rest of the state because they do not have access to broadband internet. They are missing great ways to find jobs and get a good education, their kids are missing useful educational tools, and you, as their local leaders, are missing a chance to communicate with them, find out their needs and protect your citizens’ interests.
The good news here is that no town or city is too far behind to catch up with the rest of the country. There are many grant opportunities available to un-served and underserved areas of the state so that you can develop an infrastructure for broadband internet in your area. You can find out more about those grants under our Funding Sources tab in the top navigation bar. You may also run into the challenge of convincing your citizens the importance and convenience of broadband internet. You will need their support, so refer them to our "Citizens" page here. You can also explain to them the need for demand to drive infrastructure development by showing them the broadband lifecycle here.
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Benefits for Local Governments
Broadband internet does not simply help a government keep on its feet and function, it also can help that government thrive and expand its horizons. Below are the many benefits that a local government can gain from adopting and providing broadband internet as a utility to their citizens. We invite you to read them and be inspired to adopt broadband for your area.
Back-up your data
Odds are, somewhere in your government buildings you have a large room dedicated solely to important, irreplaceable documents necessary for your district to function properly. You may have some digital copies of information on a computer somewhere in the same building. So, what if the building goes up in smoke? Under your circumstances, would you lose everything? Thanks to broadband internet, there are ways to make digital back-ups to your database and store the information at a remote location, often another government facility, where it can be safe and secure in case of emergencies such as the one mentioned. Your legal system can also benefit from such a database because it would then be possible for any government official to look up documents they need anywhere, any time. Imagine there is a heated debate going on during a council meeting over the accuracy of someone’s reference to a specific law. Using your computer and broadband internet, the dispute could be resolved simply by searching for the law in the database search engine. Problem solved and issue resolved all with the click of a mouse.
With broadband internet allowing for easy access to just about any information at any time, people are starting to have an interest in knowing what their government is doing. Citizens everywhere are demanding greater transparency and honesty from their political leaders. By having greater transparency, such as by having a government website, a government can earn a large amount of trust from its citizens. Trust, then, can lead to public support and participation, which can lead to progress, economic and social growth, and improvement in just about all social and political aspects of your citizens’ life. Then, by advertising this progress and success, especially through broadband internet, the town could see growth and development from people and businesses showing an interest in your area.
Everyone knows that when holding a fundraising event, more people equals more money, so why would you not want a way to get more than just the locals to come to public events? Thanks to broadband internet, not only is it possible, but it is in many cases highly effective! By advertising an event online, your potential audience increases by the millions! Now, this does not mean that millions of people will show up at your fundraiser, debate, public ceremony etc, but do not be surprised if people from neighboring areas of Louisiana show up causing a significant increase in turn-out percentages. What is also nice is that the online advertisement does not even have to be that big. Just place it on a public site such as facebook, get people to “like” your event and see where the interest goes from there. In many cases, if one person “likes” the event, all of their friends will know about it, then if one of those friends likes the same event, then any of his or her friends will know about it and so on. Every person that sees your ad is one more person that could potentially come to the event.
Surveys are very important to local governments in getting feedback from its citizens. It reveals concerns, satisfaction levels, political tendencies, and most importantly citizen demographics. Thanks to broadband internet, surveys can now be performed online getting more accurate information at a faster rate. All you have to do is post a survey online where people can access it, have the information collected go to a digital database, and then from that database government officials can quickly and efficiently glean the necessary statistics for their research. Of course, until all of your citizens can effectively use their broadband internet at home, this method of surveying will have limited results. Over time, however, as people realize the convenience of an online survey, you will see the progressive reduction in needing to go from house to house or printing thousands of hard copies of the surveys thus saving precious money and time.
Public Safety/Homeland Security
With the terrorism threat at home, it is important for communities to be up-to-date and connected with actions involving homeland security. There is no more efficient or faster way for your community to be aware of the latest security threats and defenses than by having access to broadband internet. Through email and web alerts, you can receive up-to-the-minute updates on any topic that could potentially threaten or help your community. It is an important and essential resource.
Economic Development is dependent on many factors from having a good education level to a low unemployment rate to a low crime rate and to a steadily growing population, so where does broadband fit in this equation? Broadband, because of its high speeds and easy access, helps contribute positively in many of these factors. For instance, those with low levels of education can go online to study for their GEDs or can take online college courses. High School students have resources to do better in school and study for their ACTs and SATs. Broadband also helps teachers in the classrooms have fresh technologies with which to teach their students and help them succeed. Because of more people being able to get a higher level of education, those same people then become more eligible for better paying jobs. Higher education and a large, qualified workforce also attract businesses to your areas creating job growth and competition. With more people employed and off the streets, crime rates go down. For any crime that does happen, however, broadband is capable of providing law enforcers a useful tool to help locate and incarcerate the criminals responsible, thus resolving unsafe situations faster and more effectively.
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Selling your needs to Broadband Providers
Once you have concluded that broadband internet is a significant utility to have, the next challenge will be to find a broadband provider willing to service your area. This can be particularly daunting in rural areas that are not easy for providers to access. It may be necessary for you to develop a strategic plan to demonstrate that supplying broadband in your area is sound business for the provider. In the end, whether a provider will agree to serve your area or not depends on the demand for it there. As a result, you will need to get your citizens involved. You will have to go about providing a case for relevance to your citizens, which in turn will cause them to want broadband. With demand for broadband in place, you can begin to develop a local infrastructure with the provider of your choice. Once the infrastructure is in place, those citizens who demanded internet will be able to adopt it, which in turn creates an even bigger argument for relevance. If you wish to understand this cycle in more detail so that you may utilize it in your preparations, visit our Broadband Lifecycle page here.
Grant Opportunities for Local Governments:these links can also be found under the Funding Sources tab in the top navigation bar
- USDA Rural Development
- USDA Rural Utilities System
- Delta Regional Authority
- Economic Development Association
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Broadband for Local Government
Why Local Governments need Broadband
Benefits to Local Governments
Build a strategy for Broadband Adoption
Funding Resources for Local Governments
Tell Us Your Story
Training Opportunities for Local Governments