How Technology Can Balance Urban/Rural Development

There was a panel at SXSW (South by Southwest) on – How Technology Can Balance Urban/Rural Development. The panelists spoke from an international perspective but there were some lessons that we could learn in Minnesota. And I think there’s something they could learn from us.

The talked about two ways to fix the rural broadband issue…

The most obvious lines of thinking are that there are perhaps two main ways to solve this: influencing market forces in a way that incentivizes private companies to build more rural broadband infrastructure; or creating a government-owned high-speed Internet network.

That is where I think the “Minnesota model” of encouraging public-private partnership with state grants could be a big boost to many areas.

They noted some other tactics, such as digital inclusion. I think most of Minnesota is beyond needing to learn why to use technology but the how can still be a barrier. Whether that’s how to use email or how to run an online business.

They talked about extending smart city ideas to the village…

This work must now be translated to what the panelists called “smart village” technologies. So whereas the parks department in San Francisco can — and is — use sensors to tell when garbage cans in their parks are too full, farmers in Modesto, Calif., can similarly use sensors to tell if their pigs are getting sick.

And one very practical idea is to ask new developers about their plans for broadband…

Schweiger described one particularly effective means of supporting broadband in her city, which has been offering a questionnaire to property developers asking how they will incorporate broadband infrastructure into their new construction. Schweiger described it as “a behavior nudging mechanism.”

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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