Like many states, much of Michigan lacks access to broadband internet. Research and Education Networks are uniquely positioned to catalyze unserved communities toward connectivity. Merit, in partnership with M-Lab and the Quello Center at Michigan State University, has developed a phased plan to address the digital divide within our state. Dubbed the “Michigan Moonshot,” Merit’s approach includes access and availability data collection, investigation and community education in regard to infrastructure investment and societal impact studies along the way.
Access to, and use of, the internet has become an integral component of everyday life in the 21st century. Digital information has reshaped how individuals participate in nearly every dimension of society. It is imperative for communities to leverage broadband network access to eliminate the homework gap and for the benefit of education, telemedicine, public safety and workforce development to maintain the quality of life.
Armed with an accurate picture of Michigan’s connectivity, barriers to broadband network deployment in rural communities could be reduced through a combination of techniques. Efforts to secure one-time funds to supplement network construction costs, the creation of community connectivity task force teams, the deployment of municipal network education initiatives and seeking planning grants could present viable next steps to address the lack of connectivity in Michigan.