As the state level agency charged with developing a comprehensive approach to broadband, the Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) is leading the effort to increase coverage and capacity of broadband throughout Colorado. Our team is broken into two primary functions that support the overall effort.
The Broadband Mapping Team develops and maintains a database and an interactive online map of broadband service in Colorado. The service data is collected directly from broadband carriers and verified using local input methods—such as speed tests and regional studies.
The Broadband Strategy Team focuses on organizing, facilitating, and educating stakeholder groups to increase awareness of the importance of broadband and help communities in identifying broadband solutions. OIT has partnered with the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) to promote and assist with regional strategic broadband planning. The plans identify issues, priorities, and goals related to broadband deployment and adoption for each specific region.
In 2012, Governor Hickenlooper signed executive order D2012-037 ‘Establishing Broadband Responsibilities in the Governor’s Office of Information Technology’ (OIT). While this order formally designated OIT as the lead for broadband activities in the state, the work to create better broadband for Colorado had already begun.
In 2009 OIT received a grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) as part of the State Broadband Initiative (SBI) effort. The primary goal of the grant was to map broadband availability in each state in order to develop a National Broadband Map. The broadband mapping group was formed within OIT and worked with broadband providers to gather the data of advertised speeds throughout the state and develop a GIS based searchable database of speeds and providers throughout Colorado. The first Colorado Broadband Map was launched in 2011 and has continued to be refined since.
In addition to the mapping effort, the grant funded two projects designed to expand broadband access and increase the utilization of new technologies.
Capacity Building – Distance Learning
The distance learning project’s goal was to equip 12 rural school districts with high-end video conferencing equipment to facilitate the ability for rural school children to have access to the same content as their urban counterparts. Additionally, the grant funded the development of new online learning content for use throughout the state. The project was a success as OIT actually equipped 14 schools and facilitated the generation of over 30 new online courses.
Understanding the broadband needs of local communities would be as different as the communities themselves, OIT also launched a project funded by the grant to engage local stakeholders through an education and coordination effort. OIT develop Local Technology Planning Teams (LTPT) made up of local stakeholders that the began identifying the challenges of their community and developing potential solutions. The original goal of 4 LTPTs was far surpassed as OIT Implemented over 15 teams across the state.
The initial development of data.colorado.gov as well as a statewide address data initiative was also funded through the grant.
Based on the success and support of the initial programs, OIT has continued to lead the development of a statewide approach to increasing broadband coverage and capacity for all Coloradans. The underlying philosophy of OIT’s approach in grounded in three categories; coordination, education and planning.
OIT continues to believe the solutions for a robust broadband environment in Colorado will be driven from the bottom-up, by local communities, while coordinating the critical elements into a statewide approach. OIT continues to focus on developing strong local ownership of a community’s needs while weaving in the common threads across the state.
The business, economic and technical foundations of broadband technologies are complex and constantly changing. OIT is committed to working with all stakeholders to help them understand the complexity and how it fits with their needs.
As with any major infrastructure, planning is critical. Working with our state partners at the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), OIT has developed a formalized regional planning process that brings together multiple LTPTs and assists them in developing a comprehensive regional broadband plan that can be the blueprint for future investment in that region. For additional details, see our Regional Planning section.
The Mapping Teams continues to collect data on a biannual basis to maintain the broadband database. The map is updated every April and October. The team is also constantly working to improve the mapping process, the accuracy of the data, and the web-based Broadband Map.