As KINBER continues to grow its work in serving our unserved and underserved communities across the Commonwealth, we were especially excited at the opportunity to work with the Office of Commonwealth Libraries to serve as the managing agency for the Libraries Connect Communities and Broadband Resources project. As Pennsylvania’s statewide research, education, and community network, KINBER is uniquely positioned to successfully support and execute this activity maximizing the impact of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds and serving the community anchor institutions and populations in identified counties of greatest need.
The project team worked to asses broadband needs by county and determined an early threshold for qualification for this project was 4% or greater of county population having less than 25Mbps available. The information used for this evaluation was data from the American Community Survey and FCC filings on broadband data, compiled by Harry Chrissy of the Penn State Extension office. From this, KINBER tapped 9 counties for early participation in the project.
Libraries are an essential hub within their communities providing key services and support, especially in times of need. If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, its that people must be able to safely access healthcare, educational institutions, government resources and places of employment via a safe and reliable broadband connection. Libraries are a critical resource during times of emergency ( and non-emergency times) in providing broadband access and services to their communities. This is especially true to the most rural counties with historically, the most disenfranchised populations. The Libraries Connect Communities and Broadband Resources project will work to ensure libraries are made “Future Ready” in their own network infrastructure, broadband technologies, and broadband resources. Additionally, this project will empower libraries to work within their communities, with stakeholders and other community partners, to identify broadband needs and projects and deploy solutions, under the guidance of KINBER, where possible. KINBER will support libraries in their work as community conveners, to help identify and document projects to help the community be ready to capitalize on other funds available within their county to solve the digital divide and bring reliable, quality internet service to their patrons.
- Expand universal and sustainable broadband access to participating counties;
- Engage, identify and provision emergency broadband solutions for the Pennsylvania counties with the highest need of broadband capacity;
- Improve the connections, technology, and broadband capabilities of participating libraries and libraries within participating counties and make them “future ready” to be able to support the community and be a part of county emergency plans;
- Provide training on broadband technologies, community engagement with county-based community stakeholders, and more;
- Help create a line between libraries and county emergency plans so the library is solidified as a resource center to help the community in terms of broadband during a crisis;
- Strengthen the perception of libraries and establish them as a trusted broadband resource center/community anchor institution;
TRAINING AND WEBINARS
Session 1 – Broadband 101
Video Webinar Released: Week of April 4th
Live Session: Thursday, April 14th
Session 2 – Technology Buyers’ Guide
Video Webinar Released: Week of May 2nd
Virtual Session: Thursday, May 12th
Session 3 – Stakeholder Engagement Episode 1- WHY?
Video Webinar Released: Week of June 6th
Virtual Session: Thursday, June 16th
Session 4 – Stakeholder Engagement Episode 2- WHO?
Video Webinar Released: Week of July 4th
Virtual Session: Thursday, July 14th
Session 5 – Stakeholder Engagement Episode 3- HOW? (part 1)
Video Webinar Released: Week of August 1st
Virtual Session: Thursday, August 11th
Session 6 – Stakeholder Engagement Episode 3- HOW? (part 2)
Video Webinar Released: Week of August 30th
Virtual Session: Thursday, September 8
Links for Speed Tests
Broadband Mapping Tools and Resources
This project is funded, in part, by the Governors Emergency Educational Relief funds.