September Infrastructure: resources for municipal broadband

September’s Infrastructure Committee meeting began with a report from our new EarthTech Committee, chaired by Jane Ward. Jane has been gathering a network of interested people and projects to consider, including clean water initiatives and heat pump installations. She has also been in touch with the Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative and will speak at their Net Zero Conference on October 28, 2022.

One topic that came up among EarthTech Committee contacts, and throughout the day’s meeting, was the need for education. Homeowners and builders are not always aware of available incentives, particularly when upgrading old appliances.

A number of towns have received the ARPA grants offered last spring, without much expertise in how to spend that money. OpenCape has reached out to some of the towns receiving these grants and has found them well-intentioned and passionate about the opportunities. OpenCape has offered gentle guidance on how to use the money wisely and how much can they actually accomplish with the award amounts. Each town is different and has different goals. Some towns are being very pragmatic, others are hoping for a Main Street project like FalmouthNet.

Town committees and the towns need to understand what is involved in these projects and their adoption. There is a broad range of internet users on the Cape, ranging from those who rely on broadband and those who do not understand the need. Even if a new service is more reliable and less expensive, change is hard and education is necessary. There is technology confusion and a call for information in layman’s terms that could be shared on social media. The town administrators, IT departments and select boards of our towns need to understand the projects before work proceeds. Since so much has changed in recent years, Infrastructure Committee members would also appreciate a primer.

The Infrastructure committee discussed holding educational events throughout the Cape as a traveling forum for people to connect and share stories and advice. Individual CCTC members have learned lessons through their own work that could be shared with others. Members volunteered to help set this up if the Board approves of this initiative.

The CCTC Board is organizing a strategic planning session to consider organizational priorities and objectives. Committee members were encouraged to share ideas to bring to the Board.

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