Ottawa County seeks residents to participate in broadband survey

HOLLAND—If you want faster internet service in Ottawa County, speak up.

Officials of the Ottawa County Data Collection Steering Committee, established by the county’s  Planning and Performance Improvement Department, announced a partnership with Merit Network Inc., the state’s nonprofit high-speed internet service provider, and the Quello Center, the public policy research institution at Michgian State University, to conduct a broadband survey of county residents.

The survey aims to provide accurate data regarding properties that lack fast internet access, the affordability of high-speed data coverage, and the digital literacy skills of county residents. County officials urge residents to participate in the survey.

The committee is comprised of representatives from the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, Lakeshore Advantage, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, Farm Bureau, the Holland Board of Power and Water, local units of government, and several other key individuals.

Said Mike Rohwer, CIO and assistant superintendent of the intermediate school district, referenced a quote from Socrates, among others, that “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. 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, which aims to bridge the digital divide in Michigan. 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 from June 7 through 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, including necessary Internet-enabled equipment and the digital literacy skills needed to succeed in today’s world and tomorrow’s future.  Phase 1 of the comprehensive Strategy 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 at www.miottawa.org/broadband.

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