Broadband, which just a few years ago was a relatively obscure policy area, has become a top priority for states like Georgia, where officials say they’re building new coverage maps that show exactly which homes and businesses have access to high-speed internet and which do not.
“We’ve been working on it pretty aggressively with a couple of the agencies right now but really trying to focus on the rural areas of the state that just do not have the connectivity and affects so many different parts of peoples’ lives. It can truly make an impact with citizens,” says Georgia Chief Information Officer Calvin Rhodes in a video interview with StateScoop.
In August, the Federal Communications Commission ordered that internet service providers must soon update the format of their broadband coverage maps, sharing polygonal outlines of their coverage areas instead of the existing practice of sharing binary data on each census block, which can be misleading.
“We’ve been involved with three different counties in terms of doing a pilot to make sure our mapping effort will meet what the legislature put in front of us to achieve and we’re really blown away with the difference in what we had thought from the FCC maps to what when you get down to the address level you can really make much more informed decisions with that information,” Rhodes says.
In addition to the new maps, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs is also providing financial incentives to internet service providers with the hopes of spurring investment in less populated regions of the state.
Having put all these pieces together, Rhodes says the initiative is headed toward a statewide initiative. Maps that shows which areas of the state are served by broadband providers can be found on the Georgia Department of Community Affairs website.
Rhodes on cybersecurity:
“There are so many different players involved to where the collaboration is key. we’ve had great success with the Georgia Cyber Center. … We’ve taken it from book knowledge to making sure the individuals know how to execute with skills.”
These videos were produced by StateScoop at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ midyear conference in National Harbor, Maryland, in May 2019.