1,700 have filled out survey on high-speed internet access in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 December 2020 at 1:51 pm

Local group wants to reach goal of 5,000 completed surveys

Local leaders trying to document the needs for high-speed internet in Orleans County are pleased so far with the response to a survey of residents about their internet access and needs.

In the two weeks the survey has been available online, 1,700 people have responded, with 20 percent of those 17 or younger. (Click here to see the survey.)

Other notable feedback in the survey so far:

  • 17% of residents who responded do not have internet at home, and of those, 88% do not have an option of purchasing it.
  • Only 21% of respondents said that their internet is very reliable.
  • Females are participating in the survey at a rate of 2 to 1 to males.

Mary Beth Debus, president of Program Savvy Consulting, shared some of the early results of the survey with the Orleans Digital Literacy Initiative Steering Team. That group has a goal of 5,000 surveys from the community. The more data from local residents, the better the county can document the situation in the community for internet access and need, and can make a stronger case to potential funders, Debus said.

“Our ability to attract funders will be enhanced by being able to show the degree of engagement on this issue,” Debus said. “The participation in the survey is one way to measure engagement.”

The Orleans County United Way received a $50,000 grant to study the issue. It has hired a consultant who has interviewed school, business and community leaders on the issue. Debus prepared the 48-question survey for residents to share about their internet access and how it affects them. The online survey will be available soon in Spanish.

The United Way has formed a steering committee for the Orleans Digital Literacy Initiative. The committee includes Dean Bellack, executive director of the Orleans County United Way; County Legislator Ken DeRoller; Kelly Kiebala, director of the Orleans County Job Development Agency; Robert Batt, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County; and Greg Reed, director of the Orleans County YMCA.

Debus is interviewing community members and expects to have the surveys tabulated for a report in March. That information will allow the county to then pursue funding through the state or federal government, or through at least 20 foundations.