September Infrastructure: Climate Change and Seal Deterrence

Following up on the Infrastructure Committee’s August meeting, committee members looked into resources for finding public WiFi on the Cape for use by students and others needing connection. One solution they found is an app called WiFi Map.  At the time of the September meeting, there were 53 hotspots listed on the app in Barnstable, populated through crowdsourcing. A member suggested reaching out to users and local businesses to help identify and add WiFi hotspots. Users must be at the hotspot to add the app. It was also suggested that the Tech Council offer a list of hotspots, with a link to WiFi Maps. WiFi Maps is a huge database — linking to a subset at the Cape Cod level could be helpful. There is also the question of privacy for those who do not wish to be listed. Before the app is recommended, it must be thoroughly vetted as the Council needs be concerned about the implication of endorsing one product over competing products

Seal Deterrence and Shark Safety
Heather Doyle, chair of Cape Cod Ocean Community, presented information on an initiative from NOAA currently calling for public discussion. NOAA is looking for public opinion on whether they should proceed studying audio deterrence of seals near the shore. There is a summary of the proposal on the NOAA website.

The website has a link to submit comments should you choose to do so. NOAA is specifically looking for comments on the draft environmental assessment, including discussion about what the Marine Mammal Protection Act would permit in terms of interfering with the seal population. The comments close on October 30.

Climate Change
Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative’s third annual Net Zero Conference on October 23 may be of interest to Tech Council members. The Infrastructure Committee discussed how the Tech Council envisions its role in addressing the environment and climate.

The Council held its first Earth Tech Expo conference last year, bringing together people who are promoting or selling technologies specifically addressing environmental issues. On the marine side of things, we have members who are instrumental in the Blue Economy. The Council has also hosted several speakers who have addressed climate issues. Members agreed that the Infrastructure Committee can play a larger public role in advocating for constructive change.

There are opportunities that are coming up in the near term. The Cape Cod Commission Act requires the Cape Cod Commission to prepare a Regional Policy Plan (RPP) that provides regional planning policies and objectives to guide development and protect the region’s resources. The Tech Council has provided comments on drafts of several iterations of the RPP. Earlier this year, approximately 300 residents of the Cape submitted a petition to revise the RPP to include specific proposals for climate change mitigation. The Proposal was not adopted. However, the Commission has set forth a process for developing a climate action plan, asking stakeholders to participate. It was suggested that the Infrastructure Committee request a Commission staff member to present on the action plan at an upcoming infrastructure meeting. Members of the committee are encouraged to consider where the opportunities are and bring them to the attention of the community.

Letters of Support
The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce has a formal policy as to how it evaluates requests for support and advocacy. A member of the Infrastructure Committee suggested we develop an adaptation of that policy that is suitable to the Tech Council and forward to the Executive Board for consideration.

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