Ottawa County calls on residents to assist in internet expansion efforts

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The Ottawa County Data Collection Steering Committee was tasked with the collection of countywide internet-accessibility information that will be used to inform decision-making to effectively increase access to reliable and affordable internet.

The committee is composed of representatives from the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (OAISD), Lakeshore Advantage, Spectrum Health, GVSU, Farm Bureau, Holland BPW, local units of government and several other key individuals.

To obtain data, the Ottawa County Data Collection Steering Committee contracted with Merit Network Inc. and is seeking countywide input from residents in the form of a survey. This survey was developed by Merit Network, in partnership with the Quello Center at Michigan State University, to provide accurate data regarding which properties have internet access, the affordability of that access for residents with coverage and the digital literacy skills of county residents.

Information gathered will only be used to support broadband internet expansion efforts. The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners urges residents to participate in this survey to help measure broadband access.

“Socrates, among others, is ascribed to have said, ‘Wisdom is knowing what you do not know.’ In many respects, this guides the first phase of the Ottawa County Digital Inclusion Strategy as we seek out a collective understanding of the barriers that currently inhibit digital inclusivity throughout Ottawa County — whether they be technical, economic or otherwise,” said Mike Rohwer, CIO and assistant superintendent of the OAISD. “This initiative truly requires the wisdom of the crowds. It is our hope that the partnership between local leaders, Merit and the residents of Ottawa County can lay the groundwork to overcome all hurdles with the goal of meeting both current and future needs within our region.”

The survey is being conducted through a partnership with the Michigan Moonshot initiative. Accurate, unbiased data will assist in drawing necessary state and federal funds to the community. Residents are being asked to visit MichiganMoonshot.org/Ottawa  to complete the brief survey, whether they pay for internet access at their property or not.

The data collection runs until Sept. 17.

Ottawa County’s four-phase Digital Inclusion Strategy is designed to ensure all county residents have access to affordable and reliable broadband internet service. Phase 1 involves the collection of countywide internet-accessibility data that will be used to inform the county’s decision-making to effectively address existing gaps in digital inclusion. Learn more on Ottawa County’s website.

The Michigan Moonshot is a collective call to action, which aims to bridge the digital divide in Michigan. Stakeholders include Merit Network, the Quello Center at Michigan State University and M-Lab.

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