The Town of Chapel Hill and the Town of Carrboro should not authorize their managers to continue with the Gig.U (aka North Carolina Next Generation Network [NCNGN]) initiative at this time. Both elected bodies should direct staff to send the request for proposals (RFP) back to the drawing board for repairs.
The primary reason to reject the current RFP is that local governments could not enforce important parts of agreements that could come from a resulting contract. Municipalities all over North Carolina have been stripped of any legal authority to franchise or regulate either cable or broadband systems. This is important because, as the current RFP is structured, this is how the towns would make sure we all have access to a new fast network.
Someone please help me out if I'm missing some hidden value here, but it seems to me that Orange County has found a way to spend money on technology while serving a few residents as little as possible. According to a press release issued today (below) the county is installing monitors in three county buildings with the time, weather, traffic updates, and emergency alerts when they are available. Because, you know, when there is danger afoot the first thing I do is get in the car and drive to a government administrative building.
When I attended the presentation of the County's technology plan last fall, I heard a lot of technobabble about citizen engagement and delivery of services. I can't see how these glorified smart phones fit into the plan.
Over the years you may have read my posts here on OP about equal access to the Internet. It was my volunteering with AmeriCorp and the Town of Chapel Hill that really motivated me. Here is my donation letter I'm sending to friends about my latest effort. Please consider giving this holiday season to buy laptops for kids in Abbey Court (a.k.a. Collins Crossing).
Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton and Orange Networking are raising $3,000 to provide laptops for fifteen kids at Abbey Court. Can you help us? We want to close the digital divide for fifteen families who currently have no computer at home. Please give whatever you can by clicking here. If you prefer to donate via check please make it out to ‘Orange Networking’. (Let me know in the comments and I'll send you the address to mail a check to.)
Tonight the Orange County Commissioners had a work session including two items related to technology. In the first, a consultant from the UNC School of GOvernment (how many of those are there?) presented Strategic Information Technology Plan which prioritized investments in tools for citizen engament and delivery of services. They also heard a brief update on the county staff's attempt to make agendas more electronically accessible through clean, searchable PDFs.
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