It’s NARC Membership Week: Thanks for being a NARC member

It’s NARC Membership Week: Thanks for being a NARC member

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Welcome to the latest edition of Regional Councils: This Month in Photos!  June – July 2019 (PDF)

Each month, NARC publishes Regional Councils: This Month in Photos to highlight events and activities taking place in regions around the nation. 

We feature regional council meetings, board retreats, meetings with state or federal elected officials, the opening of new facilities, special programs, awards, and anything else you view as important or fun to share with your colleagues.

If you would like your region included in Regional Councils: This Month in Photos, please send your photos and a brief description to Neil Bomberg at neil@narc.org.

Broadband Resources for a 21st Century Nation

In 2019, having access to the internet is no longer an option. Job applications, student homework, ecommerce, small business billing, and even conversations with friends and family require access to basic internet. Unfortunately, millions of Americans still lack sufficient internet access.

Census data from 2017 indicate that 19 million households do not have a mobile or in-home internet subscription, with 16 million of those simply not having any internet access. Broadband connectivity is an issue in both urban and rural centers; however, the challenge is greatest in rural areas. According to the FCC, over 31 percent of rural Americans do not have access to broadband at home compared to four percent of urban Americans.

Despite concerningly
limited national broadband coverage, municipalities, counties, and regions are
making progress and overcoming barriers to implementation. Some of the many challenges
of broadband deployment facing local officials include ensuring stakeholder
buy-in, locating funding, and choosing the correct technology to deploy.

Regional councils have an important role to play in the strategy, development, and deployment of broadband infrastructure. No single connectivity model works for every community, but with the aid of some of the tools below, local and regional leaders continue to connect communities through broadband:

Pew Research: State Broadband Policy Explorer

The Pew Research Center has a state broadband policy explorer which provides states, localities, and regions with an easy tool to look up state laws regarding broadband access expansion. Included in the document are important chapters outlining policies and procedures to support investment and information on how to prioritize digital inclusion. Categories for searching within the tool include broadband programs, competition and regulation, definitions, funding and financing, and infrastructure access. The tool also allows searches by state, category, topic, or year. A 50-state map illustrates which states have adopted such laws. Each state code is broken down into relevant broadband criteria. The state broadband policy explorer includes state statutes related to broadband as of Jan. 1, 2019.

Next Century
Cities: Becoming Broadband Ready

Next Century Cities has
established a toolkit for communities and acts as a one-stop shop for
strategies and solutions to connect residents. This resource is ideal for those
in the first stages of seeking internet strategies and solutions to connect
their residents. Throughout each chapter, several resources are linked,
successful examples are provided, and Next Century Cities provides relevant
suggested reading. The toolkit acts as a checklist for planning and developing
a broadband deployment strategy, helping readers consider topics such as
identifying goals, exploring financing options, collaborating, and measuring
success.

National
League of Cities (NLC): Small Cell Wireless Technology in Cities

The National League of
Cities (NLC) has produced a municipal action guide, Small
Cell Wireless Technology in Cities
, which provides guidance on how local
and regional leaders can plan for and develop small cell wireless internet
deployment. In addition to the municipal action guide, NLC has also developed a
model
ordinance
for local leaders. As the carrying capacity of cities grows,
local officials are finding new and innovative ways to provide better service,
more data, and connectivity for all residents.

National Telecommunications and Information
Administration: BroadbandUSA

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) managed two broadband grant programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). However, these programs are no longer funded and NTIA is no longer accepting applications for these programs. But the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and State Broadband Initiative (National Broadband Map) NTIA still offers many resources for local and regional officials, including Sustaining Broadband Networks: A toolkit for Local and Tribal Governments.

USDA
Toolkit: e-Connectivity @ USDA: Broadband Resources for Rural America

This USDA toolkit presents resources that support e-Connectivity with the aim of helping customers navigate the agencies within USDA to find the opportunities that best fulfill their needs. USDA hopes to use grants and loans, partnerships, and in-person consultations to support a wide variety of projects and customers.

Don’t Miss These Upcoming NARC Webinars!

Don’t Miss These Upcoming NARC Webinars!

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Welcome to the latest edition of Regional Councils: This Month in Photos!  June – July 2019 (PDF)

Each month, NARC publishes Regional Councils: This Month in Photos to highlight events and activities taking place in regions around the nation. 

We feature regional council meetings, board retreats, meetings with state or federal elected officials, the opening of new facilities, special programs, awards, and anything else you view as important or fun to share with your colleagues.

If you would like your region included in Regional Councils: This Month in Photos, please send your photos and a brief description to Neil Bomberg at neil@narc.org.

Back to School: Preparing the Next Generation of Regional Leaders

With new backpacks and school supplies in tow, students
across the country are heading back to school. They probably are not thinking
about the regional planning that went into creating the transportation system
that brought them to school. Nor the interjurisdictional trails that connect
the parks that they will use for soccer practice. No, they are probably more
focused on where their classes are at than knowing where their community’s
natural disaster emergency evacuation routes are located.

Some regional councils are trying to teach the next
generation that even being as young as they are, they can significantly impact their
communities. Just as Mara
Mintzer highlighted in her TedxMileHigh talk
, children should be included
in local planning efforts. After all, they may help regional planners find a
blind spot in how we construct our built environment that we adults have not
considered. The decisions being made today will impact their tomorrow, so it is
imperative that they know how to be a part of the long-range planning process that
may influence their way of life 20, 30, or even 50 years from now.

Below are some examples of how members are educating young
leaders about regional planning and are involving them in ongoing efforts
across their communities.

Broward
Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) – Think Like a Planner Program

Broward MPO has held several “Think Like a Planner”
workshops in high schools across the region. During these workshops, teens get
an introduction to transportation planning and potential careers in the
industry. After a walk around the neighborhood surrounding Broward MPO offices,
the students are tasked with coming up with ways to make the area safer for all
modes of transportation. They then turn these ideas into a proposal, presenting
to a three-judge panel of transportation professionals and Broward MPO Board
Members. The organization has seen great success with the program and is looking
forward to hosting more workshops this school year.

Chicago
Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) – Future Leaders in Planning Program

For ten years, CMAP has organized Future Leaders in Planning
(FLIP), a leadership development opportunity for high school students in Northeastern
Illinois. Over the course of a week during the summer, the students learn about
the issues that are shaping the Chicago region and come up with solutions for
some of the challenges facing urban planners. Activities throughout the 5-day
bootcamp include:

  • A scavenger hunt to find bus stops,
    LEED-certified buildings, and public art;
  • Negotiating a mock community development
    project;
  • Designing their own sample plan for the new Obama
    Foundation central plaza; and
  • Completing a final group project where they
    visualized the goals of CMAP’s ON TO 2050 plan across the different scales of
    urban planning.

Atlanta
Regional Commission (ARC) – Model Atlanta Regional Commission

Bringing
together 10th and 11th graders from the Atlanta metro
area, ARC’s Model Atlanta Regional Commission (MARC) provides experimental
learning opportunities in critical issue areas such as transportation,
sustainability, and community development. Participants take part in a
six-month program to learn from subject-matter experts and community leaders,
engaging in thoughtful conversations about challenges the region is facing.
Students are taken on field trips and visits to various community partners to
receive hands-on learning about the efforts of different stakeholders
throughout their region. They also develop leadership, communication, and collaboration
skills by creating actionable solutions to current regional issues. After
participating in MARC, students have
expressed
a better understanding of the considerations that go into the
different issue areas that ARC regional planners have to think about, as well
as how their entire 10-county region is interconnected.