DALLAS, April 29, 2010 - Broadband is a powerful solution to community ills, former two-term mayor Fort Wayne, Indiana, Graham Richard said Tuesday at a packed keynote luncheon at the 2010 Broadband Properties Summit here.
His address presented a model for community involvement in the proliferation of broadband as a tool to make cities more efficient, retain and gain jobs, while educating a workforce for the future.
Richard said that city and county governments are now facing the most perilous free-fall in their history of financial insolvency. Good things can spring from adversity, however: but broadband advocates must build partnerships with local governments to help them provide better and more efficient services to their communities.
Richard said was disappointed with his former colleagues in government who believe that wholesale budget cuts are the answer.
Rather, political leaders must look to new avenues of efficiency; think outside the box, and reach outside their comfort zones to solve problems.
He challenged summit attendees to help government by making better use of broadband.
Broadband as an educational and cost-savings tool was also on the mayor’s advocacy list. Because of the 40 percent increase in the enrollment of students in two-year college programs, these schools are straining under current infrastructure and instructor shortages.
Broadband can not only educate students online, relieve the strains on college services and costs, and help these institutions be more efficient and save money. Most colleges are raising tuition to cover the added costs of these issues.
Using broadband as a sustainable vehicle for public libraries is a must , he said. It is a tool for use by individuals of all ages and backgrounds to better educate themselves on various levels. It also allows , job seekers to improve their skills.
Broadband should also be used as an energy savings tool. Think of the potential savings that could be accomplished by using broadband to monitor home systems and appliances, he said. Federal funds granted for use in construction of energy-efficient homes could be redirected to broadband proliferation – and would be a smarter use of federal dollars, he said.
Using low-income family stimulus dollars to create broadband accessibility is a more efficient use of taxpayer funds. He said that such investments will pay dividends through education, energy savings, reduction of travel costs, and job creation.
To the summit, Richard brought his concept of a roundtable of broadband constituents. He approached summit leaders with the idea of forming a small group of broadband advocates to participate in a roundtable about the issues facing local communities, and how each of these individuals can collaborate to come up with ideas, through knowledge-based sharing, and in moving the broadband agenda forward in the future.
Rather than have five-hundred attendees in one meeting room, it would be good to create a small group of informed and dedicated individuals to grow, share, and implement ideas in broadband connectivity.
Richard went on to say that we are all here for a purpose: why not use that purpose to create collaboration and knowledge sharing going forward? A small group of purpose-minded individuals can make a significant difference for broadband advocacy at the local level.