The Cambridge Broadband Task Force

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The path to municipal broadband in Cambridge, MA.

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The Cambridge Broadband Task Force

  1. 1. The Cambridge Broadband Task Force When Bad Process Happens to Good People Saul Tannenbaum @stannenb Disclaimer: The presenter is a member of, but NOT speaking for, the Cambridge Broadband Task Force http://www.cambridgema.gov/CityManager/broadbandtaskforce
  2. 2. Cambridge January 1983
  3. 3. Cambridge November 1983
  4. 4. Cambridge December 1983
  5. 5. Three Decades Pass
  6. 6. The Perfect Storm • Comcast, Cambridge’s monopoly internet and cable TV provider, buys NBC/Universal, raising fears of even greater media concentration • Federal Appeals Court strikes down FCC net neutrality regulations •
  7. 7. Cambridge Responds
  8. 8. Cambridge Responds
  9. 9. Boards and Commissions Oh, And Task Forces
  10. 10. Types of Boards and Commissions Created by Ordinance Formal Process Created by City Manager or Mayor Informal Process
  11. 11. Encouraging resident involvement The City of Cambridge encourages and promotes involvement by residents in the decision-making process through participation in a variety of boards and commissions. Serving on a board or commission can be a rewarding experience and an excellent way to contribute to the quality of life of the community in which you live or work. We rely greatly on the interest and involvement of those volunteers who seek a more active role in the functioning of their local government. Selection for appointment to one of our boards and commissions is generally based on the following characteristics: • A broad perspective and concern for the welfare and progress of the City • A familiarity with the City’s history, issues and goals • Interest in the functions/responsibilities of the board or commission under consideration • City residency, in most cases • A willingness to devote time and effort to the work of said board or commission • Awareness of and understanding of the City’s ordinances and policies • Balanced and diverse representation on boards and commissions as feasible
  12. 12. Jenny Holzer, Survival 1983-1985
  13. 13. Let’s not overlook the obvious • Privileges people who: – Like meetings – Like process – Have leisure time – Like spending what otherwise would be leisure time in meetings talking about process – Don’t have child care issues – Have remarkable tolerance for low bandwidth, high frustration discussions
  14. 14. Cambridge Broadband Task Force
  15. 15. Process
  16. 16. Process • Meetings every other month, announced on the City Calendar • No agenda • No notes • No decision making process • Two lightly attended “outreach” sessions • A resident survey, with methodological problems • A consultant’s report whose recommendations we rejected – And it was terribly written, too
  17. 17. Public Participation
  18. 18. All That Mattered • Consultants determined that building a full fiber optic network in Cambridge would cost up to $170,000,000 – For Cambridge, that’s roughly a school – Cambridge builds schools routinely – Which means a municipal broadband network can be built
  19. 19. Next Step: A Municipal Broadband Feasibility Study • We’ve moved to saying “municipal broadband” • City staff have had time to stop freaking out about the prospect • We need a detailed financial plan • We need to build a serious digital inclusion/digital equity plan – “Broadband regardless of the ability to pay” • We need to do real outreach to institutions, the entrepreneurial and innovation sectors • And we need to do outreach to residents because that’s what Cambridge does

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