What is a Smart Rural Community?
Broadband enables rural Americans to enhance competitiveness and quality of life
You’ve heard of smart homes, smart phones, and the smart grid, which all rely on broadband technology to operate more effectively and efficiently. The same technology can be used to enhance entire communities.
NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association has an initiative — known as Smart Rural Community — that promotes rural broadband networks and related applications. The program encourages rural areas to use broadband to foster economic development, commerce, education, health care, government services, public safety and security, and efficient energy use. The program is based on the understanding that communities across the U.S. must be able to compete in a global marketplace, and that rural communities are often at a disadvantage in that they typically have less access to the tools and technologies that make it possible.
But, what makes a rural community “smart”? A truly smart community relies not only on technology, but also on the people who adopt and employ broadband-related services. According to NTCA, “A smart rural community should strive to create nextgeneration applications and platforms.” The organization offers several examples of outcomes that can be gained through the use of broadband:
- Customized learning environments for students, including interactive and collaborative components
- A dynamic health care infrastructure capable of supporting such applications as electronic scheduling and patient monitoring
- Precision farming tools such as real-time weather reports and other helpful information that enable them to make better decisions
- Platforms for connecting citizens with local, state, and federal government resources
- A next-generation 911 system that allows first responders to communicate efficiently during emergencies
- Modern utility networks that give users more information and control
- An energy-saving smart home network that enables appliances and devices to connect with each other
Broadband provides a foundation that makes all of these developments possible. NTCA notes, “New innovative applications are created when there is a technological platform in place.” A good broadband infrastructure should be capable of supporting the initiatives listed above, and have the capacity to continue doing so long into the future. The organization suggests that communities provide capabilities of at least 20 Mbps to regular customers, and 1 Gbps to institutions such as hospitals, libraries, and schools. The Smart Rural Community should also offer reliable mobile access. In addition, broadband providers should have a strong cybersecurity plan in place.
Madison Communications was honored to be named a Smart Rural Community by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association. This distinction reflects more than our company’s fiber infrastructure. It also pays tribute to our community partners who are using technology to help improve the lives of local residents. Learn more at http://www.gomadison. com/smartCommunity.