This has been a busy few weeks for our Smart Rural Community initiative. Last week, the White House and this week we announced a new program titled Collaboration Challenge, which will be an opportunity for rural broadband providers to obtain up to $5,000 to deploy broadband-enabled solutions for economic development, education, energy, health care, public safety and other community-oriented initiatives. Applications for this exciting challenge will be due January 31, 2015. That’s plenty of time to be doing some noodling and pondering over the holiday season!
The key behind this next step of the Smart Rural Community ecosystem is finding, using and collaborating on innovative broadband-enabled applications that will improve services and industries in rural areas. The format will be pretty simple: applicants should include what application or technology will be deployed; what purposes are intended to be served; and a brief description of the collaboration efforts undertaken with other local interests within the community to develop the proposal.
I continue to deeply believe that the Smart Rural Community initiative is a chance for rural communities across the country to highlight the innovative work they are doing, as well as an outlet to continue working to improve education, health care, agriculture and public safety, and maybe most importantly, to help build bridges between carriers and those in their communities who they are so passionate about serving.