I just got an update on Dakota County’s fiber expansion from David Asp. I get tired just thinking about what’s he doing to deploy and use fiber in Dakota County and beyond. It sounds as if his role with Dakota County is now focusing on fiber collaboration and that could help him focus on tools that might help the rest of the state as well as networks that are reaching further out into rural areas – especially in Southern Minnesota.
Dave has been working in Hastings – great news for Hastings, which has harbored some broadband dead spots in terms for years. Dakota County worked with Hiawatha Broadband to extend fiber across the bridge in Hastings to serve Smead; that has also been an opportunity to extend fiber to local residents as speeds of 100 Mbps. They are working in newer areas, where the homes have category 5 wiring and can take the best advantage of the opportunity but continue to expand.
Dakota County has also been working with West St Paul and the Utilities to extend fiber in that area too. Fiber has been pulled between Ramsey and Dakota Counties. They have been upgrading the Comcast network and offering open conduit as they go.
In Inver Grove Heights, Dakota County worked with the library, the community college, Excel Energy and Gas as they upgrade the Comcast network. Working with the local utilities helps promote Dig Once in practice, which is a huge saving all around.
Dakota County has also been talking to Renville and Sibley Counties to get them connected.
Earlier I wrote about Dakota County’s One-Stop-Shop permitting process. Work has continued there – driven I think in large part to Dave’s striving to get everyone working together.
Deploying fiber isn’t Dave’s only role. He also helps implement practices that take advantage of broadband – such as traffic control. I’ve written before about his work there; it includes monitored traffic signals that accommodate traffic changes, bus schedules, trains and more. There are sensors in the rivers to track depth and watch for anomalies. In the winter trucks are able tracked and loaded to salt streets based on monitoring that no longer requires much human intervention. There are dashboards in police cars that make them smarter and more efficient. These are all of the governmental advantages to deploying fiber and wireless in a county. The reasons that many counties are and/or should be looking at broadband.
Dave also thinks about economic development and works with local providers to help them provide better broadband to local businesses and residents – such as the case with Smead as mentioned above, but also getting providers connected to the smaller businesses in each community that might not have the individual pull (or really time to test their pull) to get better broadband.