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.
Sherburne County ranks 8 out of 87 counties for digital equity. Their access is good, education attainment is good, poverty rates are even better but this is an opportunity to invest so they good for opportunities. 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, so they have the local expertise 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||13|
|No HS degree||10|
|Below 150% poverty (last 12 months)||7|
|Below poverty (last 12 months)||11|
|No broadband access||48|
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:
- Becker Public School District (ISD #726)
Superintendent Jeremy Schmidt
- Big Lake Public School District (ISD #727)
Superintendent Mr. Tim Truebenbach
- Independent School District 728
Superintendent Daniel Bittman
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 Big Lake||Lakeside Park Wi-Fi||Project support to install Wi-Fi access points at the Big Lake City Park for community events as part of the Broadband Program for rural MN|
|City of Elk River||Downtown Rivers Edge Commons Park Public Wi-Fi Project||Capital support for Wi-Fi access in downtown Elk River|
|City of Elk River||Elk River – Zimmerman Fiber Connection||Capital support to extend an existing City of Elk River fiber network from Zimmerman School to Zimmerman City Hall to provide fiber-based broadband to the tenants and users of City Hall campus|
|Independent School District 728||ISD 728 Expansion of Public Access to Broadband||Project support to increase public Internet access by opening the Community Education Center an additional 240 hours on nights and weekends|
|Sherburne County||BAC Internet Access Project||Capital support to build fiber and install wireless networking equipment to provide visitors to the Becker Athletic Complex with broadband access|
|Sherburne County||RNFF Feasibility Grant||Project support to complete a broadband feasibility study in Sherburne County that will identify needs, existing services and infrastructure, and partnership and operations options|
|Sherburne County||Sherburne County Broadband Coalition||Project support to do research and create a shared marketing program to engage citizens and elected officials around the concept of improving broadband services in Sherburne County|
|Sherburne County||Sherburne History Center Broadband Service||Project support to provide public access to computers in the Sherburne County Historical Building and equip a community meeting room with appropriate technology, including a robust Wi-Fi network|
|Spectrum High School||Chromebooks for Spectrum||Capital support for classroom technology|