Digital Readiness Survey can help our voices be heard

Friday, May 11, 2018

The earliest European explorers arrived in what is now Nebraska by following the rivers, natural pathways to the mountains where they hoped to find their fortune in furs or gold.

Later travelers were linked to Utah via the Mormon Trail, or Oregon via wagon train.

The floodgates opened with the construction of the transcontinental railroad, making the establishment of towns like McCook possible.

Railroads brought the telegraph, connecting us to the world, albeit in a slow, unwieldy manner until the arrival of the telephone, which in turn paved the way for today’s instantaneous communication.

But those connections to the world took major commitments of time and money.

Most of us depend in one way or another with that connection to the world.

Without transportation and communication, our way of life would look very different.

The 19th century saw the arrival of the railroad, the 20th-century highways and electronic communication, and the 21st century has seen the internet grow into a vital resource.

According to the Brookings Institutions, two-thirds of new jobs created between 2010 and 2016 required medium to high digital skills.

In fact, this weekend’s graduating class has never known a time when it was impossible to Google the answer to almost any question.

But resources are not unlimited, and planners need to know where and how rural Nebraskans are using online resources.

The Nebraska Information Technology Commission has partnered with the University of Nebraska Extension, the Nebraska Public Service Commission, the Nebraska Library Commission and Purdue Center for Regional Development to conduct a statewide Digital Readiness survey.

Unfortunately, Southwest Nebraskans have not been well represented and have not taken advantage of a chance to have their voices heard.

We can still do something to change that. The survey is open to the public and available until May 24. It has only 20 questions (1/4 demographic) and will take about 7-9 minutes to complete.

“Broadband availability and digital readiness are fundamental to helping all Nebraskans realize the benefits of participating in the digital economy,” said Ed Toner, Chief Information Officer for the State of Nebraska and Chair of the Nebraska Information Technology Commission.

The survey will provide information on how Nebraskans are using broadband at home and the cost benefits of using broadband technologies. Results from this survey will help communities, resource providers, and policymakers address digital readiness and the digital divide. Participation in this survey is voluntary and is for research purposes only. Results will only be released in aggregated form removing personal identifiers.

The Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) seeks to pioneer new ideas and strategies that contribute to regional collaboration, innovation and prosperity. Founded in 2005, the Center partners with public, private, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations to identify and enhance the key drivers of innovation in regions across Indiana, the U.S. and beyond. These drivers include a vibrant and inclusive civic leadership, a commitment to collaboration, and the application of advanced data support systems to promote sound decision-making and the pursuit of economic development investments that build on the competitive assets of regions.

The Digital Readiness survey can be found at https://go.unl.edu/bbsurvey.

Purdue Center for Regional Development home https://pcrd.purdue.edu

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