CBT Faculty Consult, Testify on Rural Health Measures LB498

Posted: March 1, 2021 12:00:00 AM CST

“Rural areas do not receive the same quality and level of broadband services typically received by urban areas in Nebraska,” said Dr. Tim Obermier, UNK professor of Industrial Technology.

Access to high-speed broadband in a rural area is challenging. Because of this limited accessibility of quality, and speed of internet services, rural areas are experiencing difficulties attracting and retaining new talent and fostering entrepreneurship. The Rural Measures project is dedicated to gather this data and present it to policy makers, state and federal agencies and telecommunications providers to encourage change.

With Dr. Angela Hollman, an associate professor of Cyber Systems at UNK, the two UNK professors had developed a low-cost, small, validated raspberry-pi QT device and related survey instruments for the Rural Measures Initiative to conduct a pilot deployment of 300 units in 2019. This pilot was funded by the Nebraska Public Power District and Nebraska Rural Electrification Association.

Following that deployment, 75 more units were safely mailed to rural households across the state the following summer. Based on the preliminary results, the team is excited to move forward with a larger scale collection of data. “Systematically collecting and analyzing rural broadband access, cost and satisfaction data will accurately and independently measure and identify broadband access gaps in the rural regions of our nation,” Obermier explained. 

Senator Wendy DeBoer had learned of the efforts of the Rural Measures project, and of the assistance provided by Dr.’s Obermier and Hollman and asked to meet. Obermier, along with Dr. Angela Hollman, were consulted and eventually testified during discussions on LB498. This bill, proposed by DeBoer, would “require the Nebraska Public Service Commission to implement a broadband testing and mapping program across the state,” said Obermier. The bill would more effectively quantify and pinpoint where the problems are in Nebraska, both in rural and urban areas.

Obermier and Hollman testified on Tuesday February 9th– in a neutral position, effectively conveying the results of their independent and unbiased focus on the research. It was a fairly straightforward and safe process, says Obermier, with COVID restrictions and time limitations in place.

It is the hope, after having the opportunity to meet with the Speaker of the Legislature Senator Hilgers in his chambers after their testimony, that the bill will move out of committee and to the floor of the legislature for debate. “He was very excited about the QT unit and wanted us to deploy units in Malcom, Nebraska,” Obermier shared.

For more information the work of the Rural Measures project, please visit ruralmeasures.com.




By: CBTENews Staff

Category: Business and Technology, General

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