A Chance for Rural Stars to Strut their Stuff

By Joshua Seidemann, Vice President of Policy, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association

August 17, 2018

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) will host a Agriculture and Rural SuperCluster meeting at Purdue next month. NTCA is a co-chair of the Ag and Rural group, an invitation that came by way of a path paved by NTCA's Smart Rural Community initiative.

SuperCluster is a component of the international Global Cities Technology Challenge (GCTC), which seeks to develop broadband-based blueprints for smart cities. Unlike NTCA's SRC program, which focuses exclusively on rural America, GCTC focuses on cities of all sizes around the globe. The goal of the Ag and Rural SuperCluster is to incorporate specific attention to technology that will improve farming and ranching production and, by extension, rural prosperity. NTCA's contribution to the effort has included highlighting economic development, health outcomes, educational availability, and aging in place accomplishments of NTCA members, many drawn from our family of SRC companies.

Applicants participate in the SuperCluster by presenting their proposals at various workshops and "tech jams" that are hosted periodically. Imagine a Ted Talk for rural tech - seven minutes to make your pitch to your audience combined with a table-top display in an auditorium. 

On September 6-7, 2018, Purdue University will host a workshop coordinated by NTIA and NIST. Participants will see a virtual “tour of the SuperCluster” activities and participate in writing a blueprint document. Presentations from across the United States will provide glimpses into their projects, including challenges and noteworthy practices related to broadened internet access and IoT related to agriculture and rural health. Attendees will represent government agencies, universities, private businesses, and rural broadband users.

So, what's in it for NTCA members? First, we are working on bringing workshop participants to a "working tour" of an NTCA member service area near Purdue. Second, NTCA members who have great ideas (and, it's OK to expand and improve upon initiatives that may have been recognized by SRC) can identify an opportunity to share their accomplishments and innovation before a wider audience. And third, bragging rights. The eventual SuperCluster champion will not receive a grant or other tangible prize. Rather, the recognition will be the reward. That, and the quiet (albeit well publicized) satisfaction of knowing that the rural broadband industry imprinted its footprints firmly on the path of innovation.

For more information, please contact Josh Seidemann at jseidemann@ntca.org.