The state of Oregon is holding a series of informational meetings in 20 areas around the state to identify the barriers to bringing Internet resources to their community.
While obviously meetings are being held in urban locations such as Portland and the state capital of Salem, they are also being held in rural and remote locations such as John Day and Madras (with 5,078 residents, according to the 2000 census).
The meetings are part of a project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus package. Oregon received a $1.6 million Broadband Data Collection and Mapping Grant and a $498,610 Broadband Planning Grant to conduct Internet initiatives in the state and support efforts to develop and ensure the implementation of state broadband strategies.
Work is being led by a company called One Economy under contract with the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (PUC), and in collaboration with the Oregon Business Development Department, and the Oregon Broadband Advisory Council. The groups are administering a public survey to assess Internet use and its demand, and will report the availability, affordability, and adoption of broadband technology within Oregon.
Oregon residents can also respond to the survey online, which contains demographic information as well as what barriers people are encountering, such as "It is not available where I live," "I can’t afford it," "I don’t like to sign contracts," issues with credit scores, or not having enough knowledge about what the Internet is or could provide.
Other questions include the importance of having Internet in the home and from a device such as a smart phone, as well as the amount that the person would be willing to pay for broadband Internet access.
Activities that Oregon residents are being asked about include e-mail, taking online courses, downloading programs or software updates and fixing computer/Internet problems, shopping, banking, sharing personal information, employment, health information, news, schoolwork, and entertainment.