Home Forums Socioeconomic Looking for comments from communities – niche

This topic contains 4 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Brian Beaton 5 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #845

    Linda Vennard

    As I was reading through the Alberta Rural Broadband Status Report – (June, 2008) – Alberta Council of Technologies (see the entire report posted in the socio-economic stream) a few comments stood out, and I’d like to know what community members think of them. Here’s two of them:

    • Comment 1 (p.2): Competitive Advantage or Niche: “Every region in Alberta, rural or urban, must figure out its ‘unique source of competitive advantage’. That niche will be defined by pairing a region’s distinct economic assets with an insightful analysis of new market opportunities.”

    This raised a question in my mind about the viewpoints of the diverse communities attending the symposium: What is the’ unique source of competitive advantage’ – or niche – in YOUR community, and how does broadband fit in?

    • Comment 2: (p.2): Urban influx: The second comment is actually a quote from Joel Kotkin’s book quoted in the report: ”our new technology-driven economy has spurred an “out-migration” of talent from urban regions of the country to more rural areas”.

    This raises interesting and provocative issues with respect to community development, and again I’d like to know more about the communities attending the symposium: To what extent does that quote apply to YOUR community? Do you see an influx from urban regions to your rural communities, is this a goal for YOUR community – or do you even want to see this?

    I’m really interested in what communities have to say about these points.

  • #875

    Mark Wolfe

    Comment 2 is a great point, as one of the operating assumptions I had going into the proposing and planning of this event stems from my consulting work in Olds specifically where one could clearly see that community setting itself up to be a truly next-generation of creativity and innovation, the seriously kick-ass capacity of their new infrastructure effecting what Judy Dumont in Boston referred to in our conversations as “future proofing.”

    This might also dovetail with Brian Beaton’s comments as well in the Governance Forum that reminds us Olds was predated by exemplars elsewhere in Canada, based in part on the multiple programs that ultimately flowed out of the IHAC report — but where I would also argue the question also needs to be raised: what means broadband? Because 2 and 5 Mbps are widely considered not much of an improvement over dial-up, all the arm-waving by the Alberta Government notwithstanding.

    And so this very key question dovetails with technical issues because much of what is in place in Olds, again to use the local exemplar, is orders of magnitude beyond what is in play in most regions, with even New Zealand playing mostly in the 5 Mbps (but scalable, I understand). Looking forward to learning more, perhaps, from Catherine Middleton who is in Australia I believe this week.

  • #925

    James Van Leeuwen

    Ben Winchester at UMinn can speak to the ‘brain gain’ that is underway in some rural regions of the U.S.:


    His research shows that educated people are moving back to rural communities to enjoy…

    1) the slower pace of life
    2) the greater safety and security
    3) the lower cost of housing

    These educated people aren’t talking about jobs, they are talking about quality of life.

    This is a potential competitive advantage for any rural community that welcomes community development (= social change).

    Realizing this potential advantage is much more than a matter of tolerating social change, which is the status quo in most of rural Alberta.

    A community must want and welcome social change, because nobody wants to stay where they don’t feel welcome.

    Rural Minnesota is experiencing a brain gain largely because there is State-level support for rural communities (and collaborations thereof) to develop and implement digital strategies.

    This is exactly what Alberta needs, and we shouldn’t be waiting for the federal government to come up with a national digital strategy first.

    The Feds have far too little depth in the Digital Economy, or in thinking outside of Canada’s traditional economic box (rip it and ship it). They also have a terrible habit of allowing our telecom industry to dictate Canada’s digital agenda.

    With the SuperNet to build on, Alberta could (and should) be setting a leadership example for the rest of the country.

    For the question of where such leadership could and should be coming from, look to Olds for the answer… we just need a hell of a lot more of it.

    This where the Government of Alberta should be playing a role, like the Government of Minnesota.

    Are we to understand that the GoA might not participate in the Symposium?

    If so, it becomes practically impossible to take the GoA seriously as an agent supporting digital development in Alberta.

    A different agency will be required to foster digital literacy and leadership, and this will need to become a central topic of discussion.

  • #949

    Paul Nelson

    James Van Leeuwen”s point “A different agency will be required to foster digital literacy and leadership, and this will need to become a central topic of discussion.” is central in my mind.

    The CRTC is essential to establishing the right playing field but it can’t lead development because it is not entrepreneurial. Large Telco’s won’t lead rural development because their profit focus is too short term. Small Telco’s and ISP’s can’t lead because they are price takers and can’t absurd investment costs.

    Only an entity with a focus on a rural enduser and a systems view of the opportunity can make this work.

  • #1007

    Brian Beaton

    Great discussion that I hope is able to be continued and supported after the workshop. The great thing about these technologies is the ongoing opportunity to be improving and developing them at all levels. Of course that can also be seen as a challenge or problem in how to pay for the forever changing and demand for better and faster technologies to accommodate the needs of software developments. Having development examples like Olds is SO IMPORTANT because the next community to build on Olds’ experience now has a MINIMUM level of service to build upon. Just as Olds’ could build on the Fredericton or any other community-led broadband development model that existed before it. We need to be leap frogging each other INSTEAD of competing with each other IMHO. Competition works great where there are people and markets to compete for but in small rural and remote communities everyone must do things SMART. Allowing the government to build a network for health care or education services into a community and bypass the community network is just WRONG in my books. The government has a responsibility to invest in the community network that can serve the local health care and educational needs of every community in an equitable manner IMHO … these services and the government’s investment become the anchor tenants on the community’s broadband network that is developed to serve every business and every citizen in the community.

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