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.
Koochiching County ranks 78 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. The good news is that they have been working on it, which means they have engaged residents and some tested projects. Two standout ranks that might help guide their direction is their ranking for bachelor’s degrees (rank 84) and population with disabilities (rank 84). Highlighting these areas might give them an extra push.
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||57|
|No HS degree||56|
|Below 150% poverty (last 12 months)||80|
|Below poverty (last 12 months)||77|
|No broadband access||62|
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:
- International Falls School District (ISD #361)
Superintendent Kevin Grover
(218) 283-2571 x1112
- Littlefork-Big Falls School District (ISD #362)
Superintendent Jamie Wendt
(218) 278-6614 x210
- South Koochiching School District (ISD #363) Superintendent Jeremy Tammi
(218) 897-5275 x153
Regional Development Commission
- Arrowhead 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|
|Citizens for Backus / AB||Backus Conferencing Upgrades||Project support to upgrade interactive videoconferencing equipment and capabilities at the Backus Community Center.|
|Servants of Shelter||Internet for the Homeless||Project support to improve internet access at Servants of Shelter, which provides emergency shelter to individuals and families in Koochiching County. The upgraded capacity will allow clients to research employment, education and housing opportunities.|
|Koochiching County Community Television||KCC TV Local Media: Local Lives||Project support to increase locally-generated and relevant media content that reflects the lived experience and perspective of county residents available on Koochiching County Community Television by building a coalition of students and other residents trained to use cameras and editing equipment.|
|International Falls Public Library (IFPL)||Coworking Meetups||Project support for creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship by helping Ballan’s iSpace, a new co-working facility in downtown International Falls, offer relevant programming in partnership with the International Falls Public Library and Borderland Young Professionals. Partners will host weekly gatherings of mutual support to share knowledge, build skills, network, and inspire one another.|
|I’Falls Public Library (IFPL)||The Library Reaches Into the Community||Project support to increase broadband adoption and use by helping the International Falls Public Library expand its services in the community, including through improved Wi-Fi access at Smokey Bear Park, six LinkedIn Learning mobile internet subscriptions for check-out, expanded reference service to texting and LiveChat, and the addition of Adobe Creative Cloud software for use by patrons in the library’s new recording studio.|
|I’Falls Public Library (IFPL)||After School Libratory||Project support to improve access to STEM education in the community by purchasing equipment for use by the after-school STEM program kids and expanding coding and technology experiences for younger patrons. The equipment could also be utilized by teachers in the classroom.|
|Borderland Young Professionals||Online Meetings||Project support to engage more young people in the organization and community by offering a web-ex participation option for their meetings and events and using their website and social media in innovative ways to engage young professionals.|
|Koochiching County Veterans Service Office||Video Teleconferencing||Project support to increase internet access and use and improve access to medical and behavioral health care by offering video teleconferencing equipment for use by veterans. The nearest VA clinics and hospitals are 200 to 600+ miles from International Falls, making it costly and time-consuming to receive medical care. Offering this equipment will greatly improve quality of life for area veterans.|
|I’Falls Library (IFPL); Koochiching Aging Options||Virtual Reality and Healthcare||Project support to increase the use of technology throughout the community by offering a set of ten virtual reality headsets for check-out and use at the library for healthcare applications, including patient and family education, student use, elder wellness and stress reduction – including virtual field trips, etc.|
|IFalls Nice||Movies in the Park||Project support to improve community events by helping purchase a screen for Movies in the Park and other potential community events to be determined.|
|Koochiching County; City of International Falls||Tech Internships||Project support to expand workforce and build skills among local residents while helping to meet the information services needs of local institutions by offering paid tech internships to high school and Rainy River Community College students.|
|Borderland Young Professionals||Ballan’s iSpace Scholarships||Project support to increase internet access and spur entrepreneurism in the community by offering scholarships to high school and college students, and nonprofit workers to Ballan’s iSpace, the new coworking space in downtown International Falls.|
|Koochiching County Historical Society||Digital History||Project support to increase internet use and access to digital exhibits within the museum through the purchase of tablets, allowing visitors to interact with exhibits via pop-up windows and shows, and view delicate materials.|
|Koochiching Technology Initiative||Koochiching County Tech Club (KCTC)||Project support to build a culture of technology use through the formation of a Tech Club, with the purpose of networking and knowledge sharing, provide information about tech careers, and perform community services such as device refurbishment, tech support, and staffing the library tech help desk.|
|Koochiching EDA||Your Ticket Home||Project support to enhance workforce and family recruitment marketing by the creation of www.yourtickethome.org and related social media, with the purpose of matching people with opportunities for employment and entrepreneurism in the area.|
|City of Littlefork||Community Center Connectivity||Project support to increase internet access and use in Littlefork by upgrading the internet connection, Wi-Fi capability, screen and projector for use by meeting and event participants and area residents.|
|City of International Falls; IFalls Nice||IFalls Nice Web Portal||Project support to improve access and visibility of information, attractions, and activities throughout the region through the creation of a comprehensive website and community calendar.|