An asset inventory is a dataset of infrastructure resources that can be used to host or co-locate broadband and other telecommunications-related equipment. Assets include structures that could support both wireless and wired equipment. Examples could include, but are not limited to water towers, grain elevators, silos, conduit, dark fiber, easements, rights-of-way, and others. The asset inventory seeks to gather the location, type, ownership, and other properties of each asset and then make those assets available to internet service providers. Making these assets available for the location of broadband equipment can help offset the cost of deploying service in areas that are challenged by a low return on investment. The following provides guidance for communities interested in conducting a local asset inventory.
It is important that the information gathered during an asset inventory can be correctly displayed and mapped in order to make it useful. The team should enlist an entity with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) skills and access the software in order to produce a viable dataset that can be used by local broadband providers.
It is also important to develop a relationship with ISPs that would be willing to use the data once it has been gathered so that when the inventory, is complete the team has ISPs ready to use the information and expand broadband.
Having the support of community leaders and team members is critical when working to gather asset data. Leadership and team members can assist with data gathering and raise awareness for the effort.
Data gathering should be focused on areas that have the most need (i.e. unserved and underserved areas), and ensure that leaders in those areas of the community are supportive of the inventory.
Once the data is gathered, documented, and disseminated to the ISPs, it is advised that the team work to facilitate discussions between the ISPs and the owners of the identified assets to help find mutually beneficial agreements for the use of the assets.
Ogemaw County, Michigan
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Ogemaw County has made it easier for ISPs to extend broadband coverage in the area by going upward. A newly completed vertical assets inventory includes barns, poles, towers, water towers, silos, and other tall structures across 14 townships in Ogemaw County. With this information, ISPs can create partnerships to install broadband infrastructure on tall structures in the area and significantly reduce the investment required.
The Ogemaw County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) partnered with Michigan Works! Region 7B Consortium, the Ogemaw County Technology Planning Team, and the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments (NEMCOG) to complete the vertical assets inventory and area map.
The work began in October 2014. The inventory included a survey mailing campaign to call on individual residents and assess the heights of various structures across the area. A grant provided by NEMCOG gave the Ogemaw County EDC access to the technology needed to map the assets once the survey was complete.
“When we have tried to recruit a new ISP or get existing companies to expand, we usually get asked about existing structures that are available to install equipment on, because it will significantly reduce expenses and improve their return on investment,” said Mandi Chasey, Director of Business and Economic Services for Ogemaw County. “This will be a huge step in the right direction and something that will benefit everyone in the county.”