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.
Kanabec County ranks 87 out of 87 counties for digital equity. Being last means they have an opportunity to create a compelling case to funders. 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. They have a long history of engaged community members and leaders so they may be in a better position to take advantage of this opportunity.
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||87|
|No HS degree||74|
|Below 150% poverty (last 12 months)||62|
|Below poverty (last 12 months)||43|
|No broadband access||70|
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:
- Mora School District (ISD #332)
Superintendent Dan Voce
- Ogilvie School District (ISD #333)
Superintendent Mrs. Kathy J. Belsheim
Regional Development Commission
- East Central 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|
|East Central Minnesota Educational Cable Cooperative||Create a network of WiFi hotspots||Project support to increase public access to the internet by creating a network of WiFi hotspots throughout the community as part of the Broadband Program in rural Minnesota|
|College of St. Scholastica, Inc.||Joined for Health||Project support for a partnership between St. Scholastica and FirstLight Health System using telehealth technology to provide pre-surgical patient education and continuing education to Health System’s staff as part of the Broadband Program|
|Kanabec County||Community Portal / Starter Websites and Training||Project support to provide training for internet marketing to area businesses, NPOs, and government, and create a community portal for a greater online presence and primary point of entry in rural Minnesota as part of the Broadband Program|
|Housing & Redevelopment Authority of Mora||Broadband and technology improvements to Life Enrichment Center||Project support for broadband and technology improvements to the Life Enrichment Center in rural Minnesota as part of the Broadband Program|
|Kanabec Area Chamber Foundation||Kanabec Broadband Initiative – Google Places Site Claiming||Project support to help local businesses increase and improve their use of online marketing through training and technical support, including accessing the current expertise of local students as part of the Broadband Program in rural Minnesota|
|City of Mora||Kanabec Broadband Initiative Tele-Work Center||Capital support to provide a public space, equipped with high speed broadband, computer and related technology to support telecommuting and after-school homework as part of the Broadband Program in rural Minnesota|
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 (Kanabec was involved with multiple Blandin community cohorts):
|Project Owner||Project Name||Description|
|Aitkin County||Web Diagnostics for Small Businesses||Project support to increase the knowledge and use of e-commerce and social media tools for small businesses in Aitkin County|
|Aitkin County||Web Diagnostics for Small Businesses, Part II||Project support to provide technical assistance to businesses to market their products through online presence and social media|
|Audubon Center of the North Woods||Online Public Access to Energy Data||Project support to connect various alternative energy facilities into a unified network for data collection and analysis for integration into curricula and energy management systems|
|Depot Studios||Expanding Access and Learning Opportunities||Project support to provide computer access with a Wi-Fi hotspot at an artist, craft and entrepreneurial center in Isle|
|East Central RDC||Broadband Inventory and Assessment||Project support to conduct an analysis of the region’s existing broadband assets and services to inform community leaders about potential gaps and opportunities|
|East Central RDC||Township Broadband Enhancements||Project support to work with up to five rural townships to identify and implement broadband solutions providing public access in areas with little to no existing broadband access|
|Isle Recreation and Education Center||Expanding Technology and Educational Opportunities||Project support to provide computer classes and a Wi-Fi public access site in the Mille Lacs lakes area|