Yesterday I joined the Blandin crew in Rock County (Luverne, MN) to hear about fun activities happening in the area related to Rock County’s participation in the BBC (Blandin Broadband Communities) initiative. What’s interesting is the budgets that Rock County has been able to provide to us; some budgets are actual and some are planned. You can probably figure out which is which by context.
It’s been great to hear what’s going on in terms of getting everyone access where they need it. It’s funny to think of broadband on the campgrounds and parks but the age of wanting to go off the grid are gone. People want/need broadband for weather reports, safety into and in parks to allow vendors to sell items (for example at an art festival.) You can watch the meeting as it happened or read my notes below.
Library Hotspots (Total Budget $3,240)
Been out for a month. Great response. Only major hiccup so far, was when a patron took the hotspot to Canada. Patrons can check out the hotspots for 2 weeks. There’s a waiting list but we have a way to try to keep broadband in the hands of the patrons who need it at home, as opposed to taking it on vacation or up to the lake.
Patrons can reserve hotspots for when they need them.
We have unlimited data per hotspot and the cost per hotspot is $40/month. They didn’t know the speeds off hand but I ran a speed test of on my computer and got 71 Mbps down and 4 Mbps up BUT that is when I was livestreaming on my phone.
PCs for People
Distribution in January and ended up ordering 10 more computers due to demand. Worked with the schools, community education and HUD housing to find computer recipients.
The onsite training was helpful. It lasted about 30 minutes and they left their PowerPoints behind for students.
Video Library (Total Budget $2,360)
Purchased equipment to record videos we could share – to provide more internet awareness in the community. From equipment troubleshooting to other topics. The videos are great because they are available after hours. Check out the videos – on a range of topics.
Wi-Fi Wagon (SDI Communication)
A wifi trailer that goes to where you and your group are and provides wifi for access. So people can get online and sue social media but also vendors can use online payment tools (such as Square).
Wifi to Blue Mound and other areas (Budget $38,440)
Providing access to public spaces – often to hilly areas. For campers but also for temporary workers who might camp while they work. They are expecting to create a solar farm that will take 2 years to build. Those workers will have access to broadband. But also it allows for security cameras and other benefits.
School Bus Wifi (Budget $26,571)
They are working on making this happen. They might add wifi to two buses; one in each district. Right now they are working on a match from the schools.
Senior Center Computer Lab (Budget $1025)
They are set up with computers. They will be moving to a new location soon. They have had a few classes. The first class filled in a matter of hours. They quickly moved to one-on-one sessions. There are two classes next week. Tomorrow is the Google class; 7 people are signed up.
Ag tech Day (Budget $16,800)
Planned for Aug 14. Looking to get local colleges to attend. Trying to locals thinking about how to use technology for agriculture. There is a local focus. Rock County has 600 feedlots in the county; 700 grain farmers.
Social Media and SEO for Businesses (Budget $15,800)
Contacted many businesses to gauge interest. There were 30 applications to participate in the program. Now we need to select the right people to participate. We will select. Kind of disappointed in the number of applications. Probably 25 percent have social media – but with limited attention and success. And the majority don’t have websites.
County Fair Booth (Budget $3480)
To promote various projects. Might have devices available to do troubleshooting as well as just introduce the various projects.
We are very excited about our broadband projects because we have a great group of people working together.