Every year, the Blandin on Broadband blog does County Broadband Profiles (and will do again when the new maps come out) but given federal opportunities are making it possible to get funding for access and adoption, I thought I’d try to present information for counties to assess their digital equity standing (see table below) and give options for who to contact locally for more information.
Cottonwood County ranks 76 out of 87 counties for digital equity. They are in a position where they need to work on the three pillars of digital equity: affordable access to broadband, device ownership and the skills to use them. Their standing with poverty ranking, school attainment and disability will help build a case with potential funders. They do have a history of digital equity projects, especially around Windom, which will help when looking for partners, local experts and model programs.
Scroll down for details and suggested resources for more information.
Blandin Foundation is using the Microsoft Digital Equity Tool to determine needs by county and make high level recommendations for next steps to consider based on the data. (With special thanks to Carter Grupp, Broadband Coordinator Broadband Coordinator at American Connection Project for Otter Tail County.) Visit the tool if you want to look up more statistics on your community.
Demographic Data and Ranking (out of 87)
|Access to 100/20||81|
|No HS degree||79|
|Below 150% poverty (last 12 months)||74|
|Below poverty (last 12 months)||50|
|No broadband access||1|
The map below shows digital inequity by census tract. The bluer the better; yellow and orange colors indicate more inequity. This map can be helpful in figuring out which parts of your county need the most help.
So where do you go to talk to people in the county about digit equity plans? Good places to start include:
- Plum Creek Library System
- Mountain Lake School District (ISD #173)
Superintendent Bill Strom
- Westbrook-Walnut Grove School District (ISD #2898)
Superintendent Loy Woelber
- Windom School District (ISD #177)
Superintendent Jamie Frank
(507) 831-6901 x502
Regional Development Commission
- Southwest Regional Development Commission
There’s a lot to take in but sometimes it’s also helpful to see what a community has done in the past, so we’ve gathered specific projects funded through the Blandin Foundation:
|Project Owner||Project Name||Description|
|Business, Arts & Recreation Center||Access to Technology, Today and Tomorrow||The Access to Technology, Today and Tomorrow project will enable virtually all Windom residents access to computer technology and the benefits of wireless Internet at convenient times in a variety of settings. The project will increase the use of broadband by supporting infrastructure development, bandwidth availability, and providing community members with access to better computer equipment such as large screen laptops and quality webcams.|
|City of Windom||Public Safety||Public Safety will install laptops, mobile network cards and software in fourteen emergency service and law enforcement vehicles to provide portable broadband access for instant information access during natural disasters, emergency situations and law enforcement responses. The access of computers and web-based technology in emergency service vehicles will supplement the ability of local law enforcement, ambulance services and fire response.|
|City of Windom||Finding Windom||This project will develop a community Internet portal called ‘Finding Windom.’ The portal will provide a conduit for all Internet queries on Windom and create links and connections to social media, businesses, services and visitor information. It will be used to market the wired City of Windom globally as a thriving progressive rural community, and attract new residents and businesses. Phase II of the project will modernize the look and functionality of the City’s website.|
|Windom Area Schools||iPads for Intervention and Digital Inclusion||The purpose of this project is to increase the number of computers/iPads accessible by students in elementary classrooms, and to host Community Education Classes on iPad use. The elementary classroom component will focus on students in the Response to Intervention Program, who struggle or are behind in their achievement and also tend to lack the financial resources to access technology.|
|Windom Area Schools||Wireless in the Schools||Wireless in the Schools will expand Internet access during and around the school day, and during school events, by utilizing a free, content-filtered Internet connection for students and others on their personal laptop computers. The updated and expanded access points to the entire high school will provide increased use by students and within classrooms. The project will also provide a wireless network for use by the community during other school and community events held at the school.|
|Windom Education & Collaborative Center/Windom School District||Video Conferencing||Video Conferencing will increase broadband access in at least five locations in two separate buildings. Mobile video conferencing equipment and dedicated broadband access will provide community members of all ages the opportunities and experiences to produce and/or receive education and cultural broadcasts. Windom Area Schools will be able to access a wider array of course work and advanced teacher training as well as producing online course curriculum. Broadband usage will be available to all.|