A series of workshops organized by the Central Coast Broadband Consortium drew about three dozen representatives from Internet service providers, local governments, economic development agencies and other companies and organizations interested in improving broadband access and infrastructure.
The first workshop brought together public works, planning and information technology managers from Salinas, Gonzales, Santa Cruz, Seaside, Watsonville, and Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. They reviewed the CCBC’s policy development and infrastructure inventory projects, and discussed how to make it easier to anticipate and meet future broadband needs.
A couple of immediate action items were 1. establish a public works/service provider liaison group, and 2. create an online policy bank. The objective of the liaison group would be, where possible, come to agreement on regional standards for fiber projects, in particular coordinating street trenching opportunities and construction standards.
The policy bank would provide planners and economic development officers with ideas, education and support in developing broadband-friendly plans and policies, for example requirements for including broadband facilities in new buildings, similar to rules for electricity and water.
Another key role identified for the CCBC was raising awareness of broadband needs, issues and opportunities among elected officials and senior agency management. There was plenty of agreement about priorities and solutions amongst the people in the room, but more work is needed to include decision makers in that consensus.
Today’s conference also included workshops for economic development professionals, and telecoms carriers and independent ISPs. More on that tomorrow.
The CCBC conference and the policy and infrastructure development work is being funded by the California Public Utilities Commission, under a grant from the California Advanced Service Fund’s regional consortia program.