R2B2 is involved in a number of regional and rural broadband action research activities. Here’s a quick list:
Support to the SouthWest Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT)
R2B2 is the research partner to SWIFT which is a fibre-optic network that is in the process of connecting 25% of Ontario’s population, 10% of Canada’s population or 3.5 million people in Southwest Ontario, Niagara and Caledon to ultra-high speed internet services. We support SWIFT with analytics (econometrics and geo-spatial analysis), data stewardship and knowledge mobilization. We provide support for data governance and stewardship. Our role is to help SWIFT and its members as well as Telecom Service Providers achieve the best possible return on investment.
Support to Municipalities on Broadband Feasibility Studies (e.g. Town of Caledon; Town of Collingwood)
Town of Caledon: In 2016, R2B2 supported the Town of Caledon with a gap analysis of the current state of connectivity. Caledon conducts community engagement for digital inclusion and innovation opportunities. In 2016, Council established a “Broadband Levy” which collects $300,000 per year, or $11 per household, to facilitate internet services for residents and businesses, in alignment with Council’s Broadband Internet Workplan objective. Caledon remains at the forefront of strengthening connectivity for its residents and business.
Town of Collingwood: Collingwood, Ontario has a thriving and growing business community largely due to its increasing number of new residents as well as seasonal residents and tourists. Local businesses in Collingwood are important stakeholders of broadband-enabled technologies. Some of these businesses operate across the country and around the world. In 2016, we assisted the Town of Collingwood to collect information about the current and future use of broadband as an essential utility. The Town is currently in the process of integrating this information into its planning.
R2B2 engages with a range of partners to conduct thematic studies. We also support University of Guelph students with the design and implementation of undergraduate or graduate research projects. Some recent topics are:
- Connectivity requirements for precision agriculture technologies
- Telecommuting and home-based business internet access
- Broadband for telehealth (including online mental health services)
- Small business user access and applications
- Social benefits of rural connectivity
R2B2 is part of university networks such as Digital Futures. We encourage the work of partnerships such as the Intelligent Communities Forum (Canada). We liaise with social innovation groups (e.g. Evergreen’s Mid-Size City Study), various digital initiatives by the provincial and federal agencies (e.g. OMAFRA, ISED, AAFC). We welcome new collaborations and seek to ensure the best possible knowledge base for “all things rural Internet.” We do this not only for the sake of top-notch research and innovation, but also for the benefit of everyone living in Ontario and across Canada.