Part 2 THINK 2015 Workshop Notes: MUSH to Mashup

How do we build connected communities? At this workshop, we heard about an engaged university that’s seen beyond its campus to expand innovation into the region, and learned from various Ontario initiatives about how they worked together to link their citizens to the world.

Moderator: Kristina Verner

Speakers: Rick Huijbregts, Campbell Patterson, Jeff Grieve

Building Sustainable Connectivity.

Without a doubt, equitable access to Internet is necessary for 21st century communities. The technology building blocks are there to allow for a collaborative model between private and public sectors. Society has an expectation that connectivity is a commodity—how will we handle the logistics and costs of providing this 21st century commodity in a lasting way?

Case Studies of Regional Connectivity.

In Olds, Alberta, the cost of access is reduced due to subsidies for those who can’t afford private connections. In general, if there are more private providers available, consumers have more choices and competition leads to more access at lower costs. Another example is LARG*net, which offers different membership models, enabling a “pay as you grow” system. Additionally, a blended model has also proved effective in London and Kitchener, where 2/3 of costs are subsidized, lowering risks to providers and making prices more affordable.

Network Thinking.

There’s a need to shift our paradigms about how to achieve evolved connectivity; we need to move from linear thinking to network thinking. Jeff Grieve, Campbell Patterson and Rick Huijbregts weighed in: this means community-based, cooperative networks of people, searching for and partnering with champions within government or institutions, collaborative leadership rather than hierarchal models, and finding the success stories that demonstrate public benefit. However, it was still absolutely necessary to spend time defining business value before talking technology for connected communities. Of course, a robust amount of tenacity is important in making these connectivity projects happen, and happen faster.

View the images below to see the problem solving ideation from this workshop.

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