A report was released this week by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania about the state broadband access in Pennsylvania’s less populated areas. With data collected in 2005 and 2006, the project looks at how healthcare, local government, education and business in rural Pennsylvania are using high-speed Internet.
Some quotes from the report about local governments with websites:
Among the counties analyzed, Internet use for transactional purposes varied considerably. It appears, for example, that being close to an urban county makes a difference in the quality of Internet interaction possible in counties.
And if if you didn’t see that coming, here is another quote:
In analyzing the quality of e-government services among municipal governments (including boroughs, townships and cities), the most striking finding was how little local governments in rural Pennsylvania use the Internet at all, as measured by the availability of a website. The exception, a county with a strong tourism economy, had a high-level Internet presence.
The report says that the Internet was most noted for it’s “transactional use” and far less for it’s “transformative use.” The document breaks these two uses down. Transactional use of the Internet replaces the need to travel for face-to-face interaction and makes finding information easier. Transformative use means applications: creating products and services that are only possible with the Internet and information technology.
As far as getting more people connected, the report makes this comment:
Proactive governments are critical to the successful uptake of broadband technologies. Government is often a key enabling factor in the availability and use of broadband, primarily through legislative action that creates opportunities and, in some cases, constructs constraints through mandates, which dictate that technology and services be provided.
I’m interested to see the recognition of the “transformative use” of the Internet. How can the Internet transform rural America?