Johnson Co. to study broadband needs

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Johnson County is pursuing a study to assess broadband internet capabilities, needs and deficiencies in the county. The study is a result of Johnson County’s investment of funds received from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Johnson County residents needed to or were required to work from home. Additionally, a number of area schools suspended in-person instruction and transitioned to online or hybrid learning. Many healthcare providers moved to online appointments to conduct non-emergency medical appointments. The increase in online use and demand caused a significant strain on area broadband internet capabilities.

Though Johnson County does not own broadband infrastructure, the pandemic illustrated the need for a more robust system throughout the county. The study, which will be conducted by a qualified third-party consultant, will provide localized, accurate and actionable data regarding internet speeds and service area coverage. There will be an emphasis on the County’s smaller towns and rural areas. The study will:

·Conduct an analysis to better determine what areas are underserved;

·Recommend strategies to achieve coverage for the entire county; and

·Investigate partnerships with existing service providers.

The Board of Supervisors voted to allocate $50,000 to fund the study in Fiscal Year 2022, which ends June 30, 2022. The County intends to use the study to pursue additional funding opportunities at the state and federal levels.

More information about ARPA and how it impacts Johnson County is available at https://www.johnsoncountyiowa.gov/arpa.

Earth Day

As usual, Johnson County passed a proclamation noting Earth Day, and urging the people of Johnson County to act in defense of our planet.

But did you know the history of Earth Day? First, there was a photo. The iconic “Earthwise” image snapped by Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders from lunar orbit on Dec. 24, 1968, showed our planet as it really is: a lonely and fragile outpost of life suspended in an endless, inky-black void. That new perspective jolted many people awake and lit a fire under others, helping the nascent environmental movement gain cohesion and momentum, experts say.

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