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.
Renville County ranks 66 out of 87 counties for digital equity. Their lowest ranking tracts are the ones that related directly to technology: access to broadband at speeds of 100 Mbps down and 20 up ranks 64, computer access ranks 70 and broadband subscription rates rank 81. It speaks to the need to focus on all aspects of 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 digital equity and therefore have local experts and community engagement.
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||64|
|No HS degree||64|
|Below 150% poverty (last 12 months)||37|
|Below poverty (last 12 months)||38|
|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:
- Bird Island-Olivia-Lake Lillian Public School District (ISD #2534)
Superintendent James Menton
(320) 523-1031 x2102
- Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart Public School District (ISD #2159)
Superintendent Dr. Michelle Mortensen, Ed.D.
(320) 833-5311 x218
- Renville County West School District (ISD #2890)
Superintendent Doug Froke
(320) 329-8362 x1302
Regional Development Commission
- Mid-Minnesota 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|
|City of Gaylord||Tech Center Marketing and Planning Project||Project support to market the concept of tech centers/maker spaces across the Renville/Sibley Fiber area and determine the feasibility/market demand/next steps in the development process|
|Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop Schools ISD 2365||Wi-Fi on Buses||Project support to outfit school buses with Wi-Fi to enable more productive use of student time on long bus rides to and from school activities, and to use those busses to provide free Wi-Fi at community events|
|Joseph R Brown Heritage Society||Community Applications||Project support to create an e-marketing platform and tourism apps for communities in the Renville/Sibley Fiber Project area|
|Joseph R Brown Heritage Society||Community Wi-Fi Project||Capital support to create 26 Wi-Fi hot spots in five communities in Renville and Sibley counties|
|Sibley County||Business and Resident Computer Training||Project support to provide computer and online technology training to area residents and businesses|
|Sibley County||Marketing in a Digital World||Project support to connect local businesses with high school students to increase the online activity of the businesses and provide real-life training opportunities for students|
|Sibley County||Website and Social Media Development||Project support to provide one-on-one consulting assistance to local small businesses as they develop and implement enhanced online presence and social media strategies|