April Infrastructure: Life online

At its April meeting the Infrastructure Committee discussed recovery efforts for our community and how the Technology Council might be of assistance. We also heard that there is proposed funding for our bridges in the upcoming stimulus bill and have modest optimism that it will be a priority project.
Committee members asked if businesses had been successful pivoting to online sales, and if there was a local version of Amazon available — a place for one-stop local shopping. It was noted that Live Love Local has been doing this and the committee discussed possible ways to support their effort. Making it easier for people to buy locally would strengthen Cape Cod’s  economy, not just during the pandemic.

Roles the Tech Council could play include providing information on technology options (Zoom, Skype, VPNs) as well as resources not found elsewhere. Massachusetts has some of the most stringent data security regulations in the U.S. A small business person unaccustomed to working online may not realize the rules they need to comply with. There are also significant privacy implications in actions being taken, including measuring proximity to people who have the virus and temperature scanning. These implications are addressed by Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Remote learning and telemedicine have highlighted the need for broadband for all as a utility. Funds have historically been granted to Western MA, but broadband connectivity is a good illustration of Cape Cod’s need, especially in consideration of Cape Cod’s disproportionately large elderly population. At times of stress to the system, a large part of our population cannot see a doctor. Cape Cod Community College, as well as the Cape’s primary and secondary schools, have pivoted to online learning. The college is providing support to faculty and the community. The biggest hindrance they are finding is students’ internet connections at home.

In addition to adequate bandwidth, connectivity issues could be due to placement of the router or overcrowding of channels. It was suggested that the Tech Council consider building a toolkit for customers to use in troubleshooting their connection.

It was reported that Comcast is giving free connectivity to people with financial need, as well as reduced laptops and desktops.

Two subgroups were proposed to explore the following, pending CCTC Board approval:

  • Research what Comcast is already offering to the community to address need and consider requesting increased bandwidth.
  • What kind of tools can the Tech Council identify and deploy to assist people, eliminating user errors?
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