Since its inception in July 2004 after 2 years as a pilot program, the Community Connect Grant Program has funded 229 projects with USDA investments totaling $122 million. Last year, USDA assistance led to improved broadband service for around 65,000 rural households, businesses and community institutions, such as first responders, schools and libraries.
This much-needed program serves our rural communities where broadband service is the least likely to be available, but where it can have a tremendous impact on the quality of life for residents living in those areas.
The USDA says, “The main purpose of the grant program is for the construction of broadband facilities in areas where no broadband exists today with a secondary benefit of providing for a free community center that provides free broadband service to all critical community facilities in the proposed funded service area for a two year period”
One real life example of how the Community Connect program can change lives is posted on the USDA’s website, and reads in part:
“All essential critical facilities including: police, emergency rescue, and schools will receive two years of free internet service. The goal was to provide residents the opportunity to telecommute from their homes, and businesses the ability to not only function effectively, but to add e-commerce options needed to compete world-wide. Students would be able to download class work from class websites and research their homework more efficiently. Not to mention that the police, fire, and emergency crews would be able to receive real-time updates, providing a higher level of public safety.”
Rural businesses better able to compete on a worldwide basis, students and schools finally being able utilize of all of the resources available online – law enforcement officials and other essential services in rural towns having access to 21st Century communication systems that can literally spell the difference between life and death.
Broadband internet will enable communities to more effectively utilize an Emergency Notification System, and no longer do they have to rely solely on text and voice alerts for rapid communications. With faster, more reliable internet connectivity, they are empowered with the ability to use an ENS to send out emergency messages to email, social media, RSS and web portals with a higher success and delivery rate compared to slower dial-up connection. Another benefit is that with more people connected to the internet you will obtain greater reach and penetration when sending messages via your ENS.
While it’s only natural for those of us living in urban areas to take our fast broadband internet for granted, for those living in rural areas having the ability to surf the net faster than dial-up must be right up there with Christmas morning.
If you would like to learn more about the Community Connect Broadband Program, please visit USDA Rural Development.
To learn about all of the ways Regroup’s Mass Notification System can be used as a cost-effective solution for Day-to-Day communications, as well as for Emergency Messaging, call us at (775) GRO-UP10 or REGISTER HERE for a free online demonstration.