Connecting Illinois through statewide broadband access; webinar outlines community solutions

URBANA, Ill. - There's still time to join the discussion of Illinois' broadband expansion efforts. Three sessions remain in the Developing Broadband Leadership webinar series designed to show how communities are addressing short-term broadband connectivity issues while moving forward with longer-term solutions.

"Internet access has never been more important in facilitating daily activities," says Matt Schmit, deputy director of the Illinois Office of Broadband. "Households with quality broadband connections can work, learn, heal, shop, and interact to an extent not thought previously possible. The unconnected; generally older, poorer, rural, and people of color; add connectivity to their list of challenges, indicating the difficulty to maintain connections with educators, employers, healthcare professionals, retailers, and family members."

The next webinar is Wednesday, May 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will outline the broadband development process. The series is hosted by Illinois Extension's Local Government Education program, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Illinois Office of Broadband, and the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. One must register online prior to the start of the webinar.

"The COVID-19 environment creates added urgency to Illinois’ need for equitable broadband infrastructure across all communities and institutions," says Nancy Ouedraggo, Illinois Extension economic development specialist.

A third and fourth webinar will be held on May 27 and June 3, starting at 11:30 a.m. The May 27 webinar will showcase strengths and weaknesses of various broadband technologies. On June 3, discuss personal application of broadband access, including low-cost broadband, connecting digital literacy with relevant content and services, making low-cost computers available, and operating public access computing centers.

If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in programming, contact Ouedraogo at Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting your needs.

Illinois Extension is the outreach effort of University of Illinois, extending unbiased, research-based information to help residents identify and solve local problems that build better futures for individuals, families, businesses, farms, and communities. Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.

SOURCE: Nancy Ouedraogo, University of Illinois Extension, Community Economic Development Specialist
WRITER: Judy Mae Bingman, University of Illinois Extension, Communication and Marketing Manager