Author Archives: themarshmethod

Old to Some, New to Others –  Minnesota Reservation gets Fiber-optic Network

Old to Some, New to Others –  Minnesota Reservation gets Fiber-optic Network

The Internet is getting faster and faster- the fastest being fiber-optics. Internet via fiber is the new standard in the high-speed internet market.

We live in a day where the internet at home and on your phone is commonplace but, even still, there are cities, countries, and regions that don’t have that luxury. All the major cities are reaping the benefit of their location and population when it comes to good internet access. Now, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa can consider themselves part of the minority of the world with fiber-optic speed internet.

The Fond du Lac Band (FLB) of Lake Superior Chippewa is an area East of Duluth, Minnesota that about 120-sq-miles in size- massive. And thanks to $8 million dollars in broadband funding they will soon be equally connected to the world.  The greater percentage of the funding came from Community Connect grants from the US Department of Rural Development.

If you are reading this and you don’t consider this a big deal you are, most likely, not from a super small (population wise) town. The director of FLB’s planning division told that receiving the fiber is, “kind of like back in the ’20s and ’30s when telephone service and electricity were starting get to rural areas of the United States.” Now, when was the last time you heard a comparison like that to a new piece of technology or gov’t initiative? Probably never.

This is going to be big, better yet, HUUUUUGE!!!

The fiber-optic system is expected to have over 160 miles of the main line plus about 78 miles for household connections. One benefit that the big cities don’t have is the competitive pricing. The most popular fiber internet out right now is Google Fiber which will cost a user a minimum of $70/month. With the assistance of the funding and the planning division, a user rate structure was created that would keep the costs down.

The internet makes the world seem so small for its users; so, I have no doubt that this technology will make an impact on community engagement in this rural area. The people will be able to connect with one another and their local government through platforms like social media, GIS, web-based meeting applications, and information disseminating applications.

That said, I encourage everyone to not take the “normal technology” for granted. The Internet, even fiber-optic internet, is old news for some of us, but to the Fond du Lac Band it’s a brand new engagement tool.

Yours in Service,

Eric Marsh, MPA@UNC
→ Stay up to date with their progress on their website ←-


A Data Driven Partnership…Esri meet Waze, Waze meet Esri.

A Data Driven Partnership – Esri meet Waze, Waze meet Esri.

The Esri and Waze Collaboration

As a techie that works in local government, I love a good story, especially one of a partnership between a public sector and a private sector technology. Here we have Esri, a builder of the world’s most powerful mapping and spatial analytics software, and Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Well, Esri isn’t exactly public sector technology but we, public sector engineers and managers, rely on it pretty heavily. Waze is a great app that I have personally used too. The drivers share real-time traffic and road info. This information, when used properly, saves me a lot of time and gas money on their daily commute. Waze has a slogan of. “Outsmarting Traffic, Together.”

Hands down, these are two leaders in their respective right. If I were to pick which leader is reaping the most from the partnership I would have to say local government. Together these two agencies formed the Connected Citizens Program which enables local governments to leverage Waze data. From the Waze app, cities get to-the-second information- e.g. road conditions, traffic congestion and motor vehicle accident trends. Local governments then funnel the aggregate data into their ArcGIS and map them. Esri is the technology provider of ArcGIS. According to Esri, “about 40,000 clients currently use the company’s database and mapping software, including ArcGIS, to manage a wide collection of city assets, ranging from sewers and electricity infrastructure to locations for planting trees.” One would think that 40,000 clients is a lot of people, and it is, but Waze currently has more than 65 million monthly active users worldwide. A majority of the people reside in medium/larger cities.

The next step, as far as local governments are concerned, is using the application to disseminate information. As an employee of a Public Works Department that handles natural disasters, I can’t wait for that day. Not only could we rely on the National Weather Service to reach people, we could get messages, pertinent messages, to people phones in a jiffy.

Local governments are using the traffic jams and alerts to help plan for future road widenings, find troubled intersections, and evaluate the layouts of existing intersections. Esri is making this an easy feat for local governments too. They are monitoring the data themselves and sending it directly to the local governments that already subscribe to their services. This technology is helping local government make long-term plans and also assisting small local governments in closing the technological gap that big cities are able to manage.

In all cases, local governments are able to meet the needs of their stakeholders better. They can heed their requests and input via the Waze app and make the necessary changes. Too often residents and stakeholders say that communicating with their governing agencies is difficult, that they don’t feel heard. Through this partnership, local governments can be more intuitive.

That said, I celebrate this glorious partnership and hope it continues to develop into a beautiful relationship.

Yours In Service,

Eric L. Marsh, MPA@UNC