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On CETF "Get Connected!"

2011-06-30 06:38:36.972736+00 by Dan Lyke 5 comments

Tonight's Petaluma Technology Advisory Committee meeeting (Yay, we dropped the "& Telecommunications"!) addressed signing the city on to the California Emerging Technology Fund "Get Connected!" campaign.

Here's what I wrote to a fellow committee member. If you are a fellow TAC member (other than the one I emailed this to), please do not comment on this post or discuss this topic with me before the next TAC meeting to avoid potential Brown Act issues!

So I'm still skeptical about what Petaluma gets out of pushing the "Get Connected!" campaign. There's some nebulous stuff about federal dollars, though I'm not sure why the CETF would need that when they've got those tens of millions of telecom dollars, but anyway...

...continued in comments...

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comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-06-30 20:35:42.958528+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Larry, I think there's a budget and core competence issue there.

More notes: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/16...-little-interest-among-non-users

By a 53%-to-41% margin, Americans say they do not believe that the spread of affordable broadband should be a major government priority. Contrary to what some might suspect, non-internet users are less likely than current users to say the government should place a high priority on the spread of high-speed connections.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-06-30 20:32:30.463631+00 by: Larry Burton

Maybe if government sites were designed to draw people to them....

#Comment Re: made: 2011-06-30 20:17:17.067511+00 by: Dan Lyke

Public Policy Institute of California questions the wisdom of pushing broadband adoption: http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/cep/ep_707jkep.pdf

... Average online book prices are no lower than in traditional bookstores, and online sellers exhibit significant dispersion associated with differentiated strategies (see Clay et al., 2002). Job searchers who use the Internet do not have shorter unemployment durations than searchers who do not (see Kuhn and Skuterud, 2004).

A companion study (Kolko, 2007) looks at how broadband adoption changes online behaviors—it has a positive and significant effect on downloading music, purchasing, visiting adult sites, and researching medications and medical conditions. Adopting broadband has no statistically significant effect, however, on visiting job or government sites—two of the many goals that governments regularly hope for when considering municipal wireless initiatives.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-06-30 19:53:26.748816+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Additional broadband statistics: If I'm reading this right, 99.5% of Petalumans have access to wired broadband, 100% have access to Download > 0.768 Mbps, Upload > 0.2 Mbps. http://www.broadbandmap.gov/su...alifornia/census-places/petaluma

Still no number on actual adoption. (Ramblings of an old man: When I started an ISP, we paid over $3k/month for .128Mbps, in a place where $300 was a mortgage payment.)

As mentioned in the previous message, I think it's also important to quantify what staff time "all departments and agencies" reviewing "scopes of responsibilities, work plans, and services" the actions to "promote deployment and adoption of broadband" would cost. Tim, do you feel comfortable giving a 30 second estimate on how many person days that'd be for your department?

#Comment Re: made: 2011-06-30 06:38:48.427573+00 by: Dan Lyke

Here's a bit of a drill down into their sample resolution, including some "WHEREAS" claims which I think need clarification, and some "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED"s that commit staff time(!), may cause other budgetary issues(!), and the last paragraph may need a lawyer hour or so.

And we're past their target 2009 and 2010 target years "to Get Connected!".

If we look at the sample resolution, the first clause is:

WHEREAS, closing the Digital Divide is vital to the economic prosperity and quality of life for residents in [Name of Local Government] and throughout California.

I think there's still some skepticism over the "Digital Divide". As I mentioned, http://www.ntia.doc.gov/report...and_Adoption_Report_11082010.pdf suggests that 47.2% say "Don't need it - not interested" and 22.3% say "No computer or computer inadequate", only 18.6 say "Too expensive". If people don't have computers they're not likely to be using broadband usefully (and may just have a smart phone).

I also grew up outside the mainstream, in a community that eschewed lots of technology for many uses, so I come with a built-in bias that technology isn't necessary for learning.

I can get picky on some of these, but the fourth paragraph says:

WHEREAS, [Name of Local Government] acknowledges that 38% of all Californians, 40% of low-income households, and [percentage of residents in local jurisdiction or region] are not connected to the Internet with broadband, leaving more than 14 million Californians without high-speed Internet access at home.

I don't know where they're getting the 38% and 40%, seems like we need to source that, we *definitely* need to source the "[percentage of residents in local jurisdiction or region]". The U.S. Census may have data we can use for this, I can dig further.

Running down further:

WHEREAS, [Name of Local Government] is committed to helping students obtain the highest-quality education possible incorporating digital literacy and understands that high-speed Internet connectivity and the availability of computing devices both at school and at home are critical teaching and learning tools for academic achievement.

As mentioned previously: I'm not convinced. I either want studies which demonstrate a curriculum need, or we pull that paragraph.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the [Name of Local Government] [Board of Supervisors or City Council] requests all of their departments and agencies to review scopes of responsibilities, work plans, and services to identify and report back to the [Board of Supervisors or City Council] within six (6) months on the strategic actions that will remove barriers to and promote the deployment and adoption of broadband among residents, customers, and recipients of public services.

That looks like it's asking for staff time. Likewise:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the [Name of Local Government] [Board of Supervisors or City Council] directs that appropriate policies promoting and supporting the deployment and adoption of broadband be promulgated and incorporated into the General Plan and other appropriate land use and economic development plans.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the [Name of Local Government] [Board of Supervisors or City Council] authorize the use of their names as champions of Get Connected! on the websites of the California Emerging Technology Fund (www.CETFund.org and www.GetConnectedToday.com) and in printed materials pertaining to Get Connected!

Based on what I saw on GetConnectedToday.com, *I* am unwilling to sign on as a public supporter because I am unwilling to spend my social capital and public reputation on an affiliation with them. And to put this in context, there are naked pictures of me on the Internet. I don't see what Petaluma gets out of this. It seems like it says "we're bandwagon joiners", not "we understand technology and its uses".

And if the TAC is going to be taken seriously, I think we need to provide justifications on all of these counts and a well written resolution to support this.

Seems like if AT&T and Verizon were serious about making sure that people "Get Connected!" they'd at least be price competitive with Sonic.net...