The state of Illinois is moving forward with efforts to increase Internet accessibility among its residents. The effort is fueled by the High-Speed Internet Services and Information Technology Act (Public Act 95-684), which calls for the enlisting of a nonprofit organization to implement a comprehensive, statewide high-speed Internet deployment strategy and demand creation initiative.
Partnership for a Connected Illinois, Inc. (PCI) is the nonprofit organization that has been tasked with meeting this critical statewide need. The organization is dedicated to collecting and publishing broadband data usage to ensure that all citizens in Illinois have access to Internet services.
PCI is required to meet the following goals:
• Ensuring that Illinois residents and businesses have access to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet service;
• Improving technology literacy, computer ownership and high-speed Internet use among residents and businesses;
• Establishing local technology planning teams to plan for improved technology use;
• Establishing and sustaining an environment that facilitates high- speed Internet access and technology investment.
In the initial stages of the project, PCI needed to know which neighborhoods and streets had broadband access, as well as the network speeds in these areas. The organization required collaborative geospatial solutions for gaining access to these data, as well as for sharing geospatial data with broadband carriers, state-level decision makers and ultimately citizens.
PCI initially relied on an external vendor to compile, process and submit, on a biannual basis, Illinois broadband provider data to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for use in their National Broadband Map. The project was brought in-house to save money and streamline collection and update efforts.
In bringing the project in-house, PCI sought a mapping solution that made it easy for any user to access and make updates to the broadband maps. PCI turned to TerraGo® geospatial collaboration software and GeoPDF® maps and imagery, which are among the most widely adopted solutions to produce, access, update and share geospatial information and applications with anyone, anywhere.
The implementation of GeoPDF Publisher® for ArcGIS® has enabled PCI to produce maps of broadband coverage for the state broken down by specific counties. The organization also used GeoPDF Toolbar® for coordinating and sharing data with carriers for updating new service areas or noting improvements of speed and service. Carriers use GeoPDF Toolbar to provide mark-ups and other updates that can easily be round-tripped back to PCI’s enterprise GIS.