Broadband Mapping Initiative by Southeast Nebraska Development District
In an effort to better understand the state’s broadband capacity, the Southeast Nebraska Development District (SENDD) is excited to launch a statewide broadband speed mapping initiative. As broadband has become an increasingly important part of life, further intensified by COVID-19, creating an affordable and accessible statewide network is critical for growth.
Tom Bliss, SENDD Executive Director noted, “We have listened to southeast Nebraska residents for years talk about not having affordable, reliable broadband service. Just because someone chooses to live in small towns shouldn’t mean they can’t engage in remote work, attend school virtually, or watch Netflix,” Bliss said. “SENDD wants to work to close the digital divide and this is an important step.” The digital divide refers to the gap in modern information accessible between areas through communication and information technology.
Bliss continued, “The need for quality, affordable broadband became very apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic as non-essential workers, students, and teachers were asked to telework or take part in distance learning. Many rural communities and areas immediately outside of these towns have little or no connectivity, which results in employees not being able to work and students not being able to take part in virtual classroom lessons.”
SENDD has partnered with the geospatial engineering firm, GEO Partners LLC to assist with the mapping initiative. GEO Partners will help identify availability reliability, and redundancy of broadband. What makes this initiative unique is the data is both dynamic, meaning points are constantly being added, and it is to the parcel-level, which helps internet service providers know exactly where they should invest.
The primary goal of the initiative is to give elected officials, businesses, and the public accurate data, so they know exactly where they stand with broadband speeds. Information will support future broadband expansion grants and projects across the state. Community surveys will help identify the areas lacking high-speed internet. Residents can participate by going to www.sendd.org/broadband and completing the speed test. Participation is encouraged to improve the accuracy of the study.
SENDD will also work with the Nebraska Regional Officials Council (NROC), Nebraska’s development districts, and others to roll out this program to the most rural parts of Nebraska. This project is funded through a U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) CARES grant.
For additional information, please contact Tom Bliss or Caleb Fjone at 402-475-2560.