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Where is Your Community?

It is important to start a local broadband effort by defining the boundaries of your community. A community can be a neighborhood, village, township, city, county, or even a region. Defining your community at the outset is critical to the remainder of the project, but it is not without flexibility. As you work through the process of organizing, assessing, and planning, you may need to modify your definition of community as opportunities present themselves. This same process can be used should the definition of community be re-evaluated.

Ask and answer the following questions to help define your community:

[one-fourth-first]What is geographic scope of the broadband issues that you are trying to address?

That is, how large is the area where common issues exist that needs to be considered?[/one-fourth-first]
[one-fourth]Similarly, who is the core group of people to be served and impacted by the project?

Will the project focus on rural unserved areas, educational institutions, the business community, etc.?[/one-fourth]
[one-fourth]Does this geographic scope or range coincide with a defined public entity, such as a village, a township, a school district, library, a county, etc.?

Could the scope be better defined as a subset or combination of entities, such as a group of townships, a partial school district or sections of multiple counties?[/one-fourth]
[one-fourth]What are the key business sectors that are present within this defined geography and should be represented in this local broadband initiative?

Sector examples include agriculture, education, healthcare, manufacturing, tourism, etc. Identifying these sectors will help determine the focus of the plan.[/one-fourth]

Given the answers to the questions above, is the resulting “community” definition of a reasonable size that could be well represented by a single Community Broadband Committee with one or two chairpersons (broadband champions)? Or should this community be better served by two or more smaller teams?

The following provides additional thoughts and best practices for defining your community:

[one-third-first]Having a well-defined “community” helps focus your efforts on only those areas and sectors that are in need of broadband improvements and minimizes involving people or groups that don’t share that need or interest.[/one-third-first]
[one-third]While not required, there are benefits to having broadband committees aligned with governmental boundaries (such as single points of contact within a municipality, access to residential data, defined roles to help with communication/coordination, etc.).[/one-third]
[one-third]When defining the size and scope of your community, consider the amount of potential influence or authority you and your broadband committee will have in taking action. This will be highly dependent on the membership of your committee. Communities will benefit from having more of these recognized leaders from various sectors or municipalities to help drive action plans.[/one-third]