Integrated Community Network project Part 1

Forks Forum


Part 1 of a two-part report on the Integrated Community Network that began three years ago.
There is a progress and goals meeting of the ICN committee the morning of Wednesday, July 23.
Prepared by Rod Fleck

Background of Integrated Community Network project:
o Various efforts were underway to integrate telecom technologies into the community with the NorTel ICN process originally proposed by John Jones as early as 1996. However, at that time in this region, use of the Internet was rather limited and the role of telecom technology was still limited to techies, colleges, and some government and business entities.
o In 1998, Forks Community Hospital submitted a community technology grant that incorporated the idea of linkages between the various governmental entities. Grant was not funded, so little else occurred.
o In 1999, a series of events, reaffirming the concepts of synchronicity and serendipity, led to the ICN process:
o Forks Community Hospital, City of Forks and Quillayute Valley School District were pursuing, separately and without collaboration, efforts to integrate telecom technology in the community at various levels;
o City was working with CenturyTel to acquire CenturyTel’s former facility in Forks;
o QVSD was leading the creation of the Washington Virtual Classroom Consortium and seeking congressional support for that project and dovetailing into their integrated community/SMART community proposal;
o CenturyTel corporate offices was exploring the idea of using the NorTel ICN process in four communities in its 22 state coverage area; and
o Chance meeting of the WAVCC advocate and city staff prior to meetings with congressional leaders the purpose of which was to discuss congressional support for each of our individual projects.
o Realization that we needed to work together became immediately apparent – at least for the short-term:
o That approach then caught CenturyTel’s attention; and
o Forks designated as the first community to undertake an ICN approach with CenturyTel’s assistance.
o The consolidated approach brought to it government, education and health care leaders, as well as political support from local, state and federal elected officials. Business was brought into the process as quickly as we could develop the relationships needed to make that occur.
Why pursue technology?
Kenai Peninsula School District in Alaska has a saying that one’s educational opportunities should not be limited by their zip code. We adopted and expanded that statement and that revised statement captures the motivation behind the community’s effort.
We wanted to ensure that our residents have access to world class educational, medical and recreational opportunities and not have their zip code limit their education opportunities, their medical treatments, or their recreational endeavors.
We also wanted to put an end to exporting our new natural resource – our kids and our community members having to leave to fulfill their occupational and educational wants and needs.
Finally, we wanted to create an environment that allowed for business retention and the development of new businesses in our rural community that utilizes telecom applications. We believed that if we could pull it off, Forks would be an example of the new rural western town.
Vision Workshop:
o Approximately 160 people attended on April 29, 2000.
o Included in that were 30 observers and 130 community members.
o Observer Corps was hosted at a dinner by the community the night before;
o Consisted of representatives from state government (two state legislators, a member of the governor’s staff, CTED staff, UTC staff); federal government (Sen. Murray’s staff, Congressman Dicks staff, Sen. Gorton’s staff); local government (county commissioners and staff, Port Angeles staff, Forks Mayor, council and staff); large businesses such as Microsoft and Washington Dental Service; and, research institutions such as the WSU telework office and UW Educational Partnerships and Outreach
o All day on a Saturday in Forks.
o Top Five Community Issues were:
o Business Enhancement & Recruitment;
o Increased Educational Opportunities (K thru 99);
o Educate community on uses/benefits of technology;
o Increase opportunities to do business with the government;
o Convince community and world that rural healthcare is world class healthcare.
Issues into projects:
o In some cases specific applications were developed for a given issue, however, the NorTel support faded just as we got into this.
o However, we still managed to develop specific projects and applications in a Forkonian manner that were articulated in a grant application to Hewlett Packard.
o In addition, other projects arose that we adopted/co-opted/breathed into existence including infrastructure issues.
o Put another way, we did it our way.
Business Enhancement & Recruitment:
Benefit the business community by creating expansion opportunities for existing businesses within the community, while ensuring the ability to attract new industries and businesses to the community.
o Create 30 – 60 new jobs dependent upon broadband applications;
o Utilize rural telework strategy to attract new employers;
o Expand business opportunities for existing employers;
o Increased numbers of computers in small businesses and homes by 35%;
o Continued business training in e-commerce, information technology, and web design.
Increased Educational Opportunities (K thru 99)
Benefit the education community by creating new educational
opportunities for K-20 students, while also providing individuals the opportunity to pursue personal and professional development.
o Supporting K-99 educational opportunities for individuals in the community via access to federal, state and/or local institutions through click and go operations for either personal growth or for professional compliance requirements;
o Develop a means of delivering tech-based training in the K-20 network that would make available low cost computers to individuals and businesses while providing training opportunities for students in a real world setting; and
o Develop a methodology to create and brokerage learning opportunities.
Educate community on uses/benefits of technology
o WEBTC Facility open to the public and staffed at a part-time basis allowing evening access to the facility and its services;
o Integration of the entire West End in the utilization of technology and broadband applications;
o Development and refinement of a self-sufficient community designed portal providing information to local residents and visitors;
o Development regional focused, and event specific English as A Second Language courses available 24/7 from any location within the West End. Examples of specific course areas: Starting School, Teenagers and School Events, Government services in the community, etc.; and
o Development and refinement of a self-sufficient community designed portal providing information to local residents and visitors.
Increase opportunities to do business with the government
Benefit the governmental agencies by allowing them to provide a better level of service to their citizens without increasing operational costs, while also providing the citizenry a greater opportunity to access and participate in their governments.
o Establishment of a means to permit the interactive participation of residents in public governmental meetings without having to travel long distances in order to be an active citizen in those spheres; and
o Establish means of obtaining permit related materials on-line, as well as applying for permits where possible, on-line with all governments.
Convince community and world that rural healthcare is world class healthcare
o Increase efficiencies by networking providers associated with the hospital together;
o Create opportunities to use video conferencing as a means of providing additional health care services to local residents;
o Creating a peer group for deaf students via video conferencing equipment; and
o Health based content for Spanish speaking parents to include the requirements associated with vaccination for school enrollment, geriatric related health issues, etc.
(Continued next week).


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