At the meeting in July, the Infrastructure Committee discussed a proposal by Congressman Kennedy to move NOAA Fisheries Science Center from Woods Hole to New Bedford. This is relevant to the Technology Council as it’s our mission to promote science technology and economic development on Cape Cod.
The committee circulated materials that were provided by the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce when this issue came up for years ago.
As one committee member stated, having NOAA in the premier science community in Massachusetts (if not the East Coast) makes good sense. From an economic development perspective, the Cape would lose between 200 and 300 professional jobs and their associated income should NOAA be relocated.
A newspaper article stated that Congressman Kennedy’s rationale for the move is that New Bedford is where the fishing industry is based. However, as committee members observed, the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance is already well-connected to the NOAA Science Center. From a science perspective it seems preferable to have NOAA where researchers can interact with Marine Biology Lab, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the other marine science entities that reside in and around Woods Hole.
Several committee members see the Cape as a center of science and envision bringing more venture-capital and startups to the area. They noted that one of the things to look for in developing technology economies is an academic institution creating intellectual property that can be commercialized. For the Cape, that’s the Woods Hole community. A number of Marine Science successes have come out of Woods Hole, including Hydroid. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute is more focused than it used to be on commercializing technology, with an aggressive program of technology transfer. It’s an anchor Institution in one of the region’s largest and most historic industries.
The infrastructure committee was in favor of recommending to the Tech Council board that we send a letter to Congressman Keating with a copy to Congressman Kennedy expressing the Tech Council’s concerns and follow-up as appropriate once we start the process.
The Army Corps of Engineers is handing over responsibility of the bridges to the Department of Transportation to facilitate getting the work done.
A committee member reported hearing that money was going to the Cape Cod Commission to study broadband on the Cape. It was reported that Senator Cyr inserted $400,000 into the IT bond bill. That bill has passed the House and the Senate and has moved to a conference committee as H4708 Governmental Growth Bill. If it passes, the $400,000 inserted by Cyr will be used by the Cape Cod Commission to identify areas that are unserved on the Cape and Islands — including the National Seashore and much of the Outer Cape.
As we’ve seen, healthcare is becoming increasingly dependent on broadband. Areas and residents who do not have access to a reliable connection will fall behind in very real ways in terms of healthcare. $1.75 million of the bond bill is earmarked to be spent on the Outer Cape, with strategic broadband expansion in Truro, Eastham and Wellfleet.
Broadband has allowed many of us to continue working through the pandemic, including musicians. It was reported that some musicians are collaborating on videos, sending files back and forth (which requires significant bandwidth. For musicians to play together in real time, there is a software platform called JamKazam, which overcomes the latency issues of Zoom. You do need to have a good internet connection in order for it to work.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has requested comment on a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Vineyard Wind offshore wind energy project. There have been a number of hearings report from committee members who participated is that support for the project is almost unanimous. The Technology Council has supported Vineyard Wind in the past. The committee voted to recommend to the Tech Council board to submit a comment in favor of the Vineyard Wind Project.