router_2.jpg

* Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium

We live in a digital age where it’s critical that all members of the community have access to the Internet—and, that they know how to use it. Broadband infrastructure is necessary for access to information for education, healthcare, government, public safety, social services, employment opportunities, breaking news, and many other common needs. Equally important is that people have the basic skills and proficiency to use online technology in ways that can improve their quality of life.

The digital divide in the Sacramento region affects the underserved and rural communities most. Convenient, affordable and regular access to the Internet is a challenge faced across our communities from elementary school children to adults seeking employment. And, with California’s aggressive goals to reduce greenhouse gases and protect the environment, evidence proves that local governments and developers can meet those objectives through pollution-fighting benefits of improved digital connectivity. For all these reasons, Valley Vision has been at the center of coordinating strategic efforts to improve broadband infrastructure, access and adoption in California’s Capital Region for almost a decade.

What is the goal?

The goal is to fill critical broadband infrastructure gaps and increase access and adoption across the region to businesses, residents, and organizations, particularly within our unserved and underserved communities. It is now considered a 21st Century civil right issue.

Why is this important?

This work is important because broadband is the essential 21st century infrastructure necessary for economic competitiveness and high quality of life. Today, even entry-level jobs require online applications, teachers expect students as early as elementary grade levels to conduct research online, and police and fire departments rely on technology to improve community safety. But gaps in broadband availability, Internet cost and barriers in user skill encumber quality of life and impede business expansion, job creation, online banking, at-home education programs, healthcare, public safety, and e-government.

What is Valley Vision doing about it?

Valley Vision has been facilitating discussions between industry, government, and community stakeholders about improving digital access in the Sacramento region since 2009. We’ve conducted most of this work through the Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium (CCABC), one of 14 regional consortia chartered by the state to increase digital access and use. The CCABC covers Sacramento, Yolo, Sutter and Yuba counties and its work has identified gaps and priority areas for improved broadband deployment. As the project manager of the CCABC, Valley Vision led a coalition of stakeholders to develop a business plan outlining the structure and goals for a regional broadband consortium. We also convened a statewide summit of regional leaders to share best practices and learn about important broadband-related legislation.

We know that access to and proficiency of online technology in the learning environment helps young students complete homework, provides parents tools to communicate with teachers and gives a child increased opportunity for long-term success. That’s why Valley Vision launched the School2Home Neighborhood Transformation initiative in 2015. This work is integrating technology into at-risk elementary schools and neighborhoods in Sacramento to help children and parents gain access to online services that wouldn’t otherwise be available.

What is our desired impact?

Close the digital divide. By closing gaps in broadband access and use, Valley Vision seeks to increase regional economic competitiveness, improve air quality and close the equity gaps that affect underserved communities.

How does this effort affect triple-bottom-line objectives?

Economy: Access to the Internet is an economic development strategy that improves our global competitiveness. To be competitive in a digital world, the region’s residents and businesses must have regular and reliable access to high-speed Internet and ways to build their digital literacy skills. Investment in broadband infrastructure and digital access initiatives is fundamental to sustainable economic growth.

Environment: Broadband is an environmentally conscious strategy for the 21st century. E-government, telehealth, telecommuting, precision agriculture, smart buildings and smart grids are all modern-day approaches to helping California towards reducing its carbon footprint. All of these technologies begin with universal broadband for all.

Equity: Ensuring that all citizens have access to the Internet is a matter of social equity. Trying to get broadband into underserved and unserved homes has helps to not only recognize
 gaps in access to the Internet and modern technologies, but also gaps in access to other common services like healthy foods, transportation, healthcare, employment and banking. Education in this digital age requires basic digital literacy and access to technology tools like computers and broadband. Each student deserves equal access to pathways for success in the 21st century.

When?

Valley Vision has been working on regional broadband initiatives since 2009. In 2015, Valley Vision began working to get Internet education into at-risk neighborhood schools through our School2Home Neighborhood Transformation initiative. In 2016, Valley Vision continued this work and partnered with the California Emerging Technology Fund on a Yolo County AgTech Pilot, which will document the need for broadband among growers and introduce broadband-enabled technologies to Yolo County farms, with results published in June 2017. Our broadband consortium workplan for 2017-18 includes Internet speed testing, broadband infrastructure mapping, working with a variety of public and private partners to develop broadband infrastructure and adoption projects, and many other sub-projects to ultimately close the digital divide in our region.

  • Focus group participants and key informants in the scoping study stated strongly that broadband is the avenue of opportunity for a sustainable and inclusive regional economy and healthy community.
  • Generated momentum to prepare a strategic action plan and further mobilize key partners and decision-makers in closing the digital divide in the Sacramento region.
  • Developed the framework for what became the Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Program, forming 14 regional consortia throughout California focused on closing the digital divide.
  • Encouraged the formation of regional broadband consortia throughout the State of California, and provided templates and examples of governance and planning models.
  • Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG)
  • Applied Development Economics
  • Sierra Health Foundation
  • California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF)
  • Sacramento Region Community Foundation