I've posted a proposal titled Local forums to implement high-speed networks (broadband) to a forum on open government put up by the White House. I ask this blog's readers to tell other people who might be interested, and vote up the proposal if you like it.
The Open Government Dialog site where this proposal appears is part of the White House's implementation of the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government that Obama signed on his first day in office. Hundreds of ideas have already been posted. Many are very specific and some look quite worthy, but I think mine stands out for the reasons listed in my justification:
First, one of the Administration's major goals is to bring high-speed networking to every resident of the country.Second, this goal is fundamental to the other goals in the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government. Members of the public need continuous access to the Internet and the ability to handle video and sophisticated graphical displays in order to make full use of the resources provided in open government efforts.
The local community aspect is also crucial, for reasons I list in my justification.
Many readers will note that the people who need my proposal the most the ones who have the most trouble participating in the forums--people who can't afford computers, who have access only to intermittent dial-up Internet access, etc. I deal with this ironic problem in the proposal in several ways (public terminals, face-to-face meetings, partnering with newspapers and television).
Because the formatting came out a mess, I'm reprinting the proposal below.
Local forums to implement high-speed networks (broadband)
Municipalities and regions undertaking projects in high-speed networking be encouraged to create online forums that:
Post regional maps showing the demographic features, geographical features, patterns of network use, and technological facilities relevant to the project
Accept proposals, provide comment and rating systems, and run polls
Provide public terminals and low-bandwidth versions of data, so that people who are currently on the disadvantaged side of the digital divide can offer input to help cross that divide
Are supplemented by face-to-face gatherings
Collaborate with newspapers and with television and radio news programs to publicize proposals, meetings, and opportunities for public comment
Create visitor accounts, perhaps with validation procedures for determining local residence, and allow visitors to identify their expertise and credentials
Provide tools for mapping proposed facilities and for calculating the reach, bandwidth, and costs of proposed facilities
Provide data about ongoing deployments in standardized, open formats on maps and in downloadable form
The federal-level initiative can support these efforts by:
Mandating the types of information that participating municipalities and companies should provide, such as the capabilities of current facilities, statistics on current usage, demographic information such as income and connectivity on a neighborhood basis, and detailed implementation plans with measurable milestones
Funding the development of software tools, such as programs that can estimate the quality of wireless coverage for different terrains, or the time period required to recoup the costs of building out networks
Providing formats and quality standards for the data provided
Publicizing successful initiatives, the tools they used, and their best practices
Why Is This Idea Important
High-speed digital networking (also known as "broadband") should concern open government advocates in two ways.
First, one of the Administration's major goals is to bring high-speed networking to every resident of the country.
Second, this goal is fundamental to the other goals in the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government. Members of the public need continuous access to the Internet and the ability to handle video and sophisticated graphical displays in order to make full use of the resources provided in open government efforts.