As we discussed in an earlier post, the Vermont Digital Economy Project has been getting its feet wet and meeting with towns to understand their needs and perspectives. However, as we continue to meet with flood-impacted towns (including Woodstock, Killington and Rochester), we are also beginning to dig into the projects and services that each town applied for.
I have the benefit of offering a service that is very widely requested. After our initial meetings with town representatives, I sent out a further questionnaire to get the community members thinking about what the best placement for a downtown Wi-Fi zone might be, which businesses would feel an effect from this zone, and who would be responsible for monitoring the zone’s usage. I’ve already heard back from several of these towns, and have met with the Bethel Business Association to discuss the benefits of a downtown zone, and how they intend to maintain it once it’s implemented. We’ve had more applications for zones than we can deliver, so there are major benefits for towns such as Bethel who have acted quickly and who are likely to be the first to receive a wireless zone from the Vermont Digital Economy Project.
Rob has been busy planning and implementing digital literacy workshops. He created a survey for nonprofits to assess the needs of organizations in each town, and has already met with nonprofit representatives in Ludlow to discuss what training might be most useful. “What I found,” says Rob, “was that these nonprofits are excited to become more digitally literate, and eager to learn new tools.” He has also been working with Pat Ripley at the Vermont Small Business Development Center to schedule free workshops for businesses that go over particular aspects of digital literacy.
Finally, Sharon has been meeting with our partner organizations, helping to get Internet Interns assigned to flood-impacted communities, and working with both Microsoft and IBM to coordinate the best ways to use their in-kind services to benefit Vermonters and our project. She has also been working with Rob and the Vermont Small Business Development Center to develop new workshops specifically catered towards farm and forest businesses and nonprofits.
Seeing all of these programs develop shows the positive changes that Sharon, Rob and I, along with our partners, hope to see as we implement more of our services across the state!