Over the last six months, and really the last two+ years, I have had to learn a lot about broadband and levels of high-speed internet access. Much like roads and highway networks and water quantity/quality, I have come to learn that it is of the highest import to the success and competitiveness of our community - both from a business standpoint and for quality of life.
Polk Vision hosted a Smart Communities Summit on Friday, June 10, to address their work on the Polk Broadband Plan which focuses on expansion of broadband (high-speed internet access). View the Reader's Digest version here. Several of our elected officials and economic development partners also recently attended the Gigabit City Summit in Kansas City and reported back on how other communities are tackling this issue.
The City of Winter Haven's Chief Information Officer (or innovation officer) Hiep Nguyen also spoke on the infrastructure of broadband as the foundation in creating innovation as an ecosystem – a way of life. How connectivity is not just about how quickly data can transfer but what that access means for human connectivity and the ability to innovate.
Lakeland City Commissioner Don Selvage reported on his top 5 take aways from the Gigabit City Summit:
1. Train has left the station - We Need to Get on Board
Eric Labbe, Planner for the City of Winter Haven and chair of the Polk Vision Broadband team shared how they developed the Polk Broadband plan.
He shared a bit of data from their original study published a few years ago:
How important is high speed internet to your business?
How likely are you to use the internet at home for education and what is the main reason you don't have an internet connection at home? (in case you can't read the image - the number one answer to the second question is price)
What areas need high speed internet access in Polk (green is the least need and red is the most need)?
And just in case you weren't sure about how much data is shared online, take a look at these stats of ONE MINUTE in the life of the internet/cell networks.
Finally, the City of Winter Haven's Chief Information Officer gave an update on how embracing innovation disrupts in a positive way. View his comments in the video below (Please pardon the shakiness of the video at first, I was having trouble getting Facebook Live going the right way! Amateur I know!)