NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative (SBI) implements the joint purposes of the Recovery Act and the Broadband Data Improvement Act, which envisioned a comprehensive program, led by state entities or non-profit organizations working at their direction, to facilitate the integration of broadband and information technology into state and local economies. Since the program’s inception, NTIA has awarded a total of $293 million to 56 grantees, one each from the 50 states, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia, or their designees. New Jersey Office of Information Technology (NJOIT) was funded 4.2 million dollars for five years of state-led efforts to collect data semiannually on the availability, speed, and location of broadband services across the state.
The first phase of the New Jersey SBI program, ConnectingNJ, included a data collection and mapping effort to build a state broadband map showing availability and speed of broadband access in the State to gain a better understanding of broadband utilization versus capacity. With the award for this data mapping phase, the State has the means to capture where broadband is available and most importantly determine its utilization (current demand) capacity and future demand for broadband statewide. OIT has been working with the selected vendor and broadband service providers and community anchor institutions (CAI’s), including education institutions, libraries, healthcare providers, government and other non-government organizations to collect, validate, verify data on broadband services available throughout the state.
The second phase, which began in July 2012, consists of two projects, capacity building and technical assistance, that will focus on raising awareness of the broadband map and how broadband can be leveraged in the community anchor institutions to benefit its constituents.
OIT has recently established the SBI Program Office to administer the next phase of the program, and to facilitate the development and execution of this outreach effort. The primary objective of the outreach effort is to initially work with four target sectors: Workforce development, Education, Economic Development and Healthcare, to bring heightened attention to the various benefits that broadband can bring to the respective community anchor institutions and to gain further insight on the adoption rate, current use and adoption barriers within their constituency groups.