Activities

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 Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) which is a non profit municipally-led broadband expansion project created to improve internet connectivity in underserved communities and rural areas across Southwestern Ontario.

Focused on enabling greater digital equality between rural and urban populations, SWIFT subsidizes the construction of open-access high-speed networks to support the expansion of broadband infrastructure in areas that do not meet the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) Universal Service Objective of 50 Mbps down, 10 Mbps up (50/10).

R2B2 is the research partner to SWIFT.  Our role is to study the economic benefits of broadband investment across the region. SWIFT’s Board of Directors considers the research partnership with University of Guelph an innovative aspect of its initiative.

Municipalities and citizen groups across the region can call upon R2B2 to join in community engagement and knowledge mobilization on broadband issues relevant to their communities. We engage University of Guelph students in this important initiative to develop capacity for their future work related to digital opportunities for small communities and rural areas.

Support to Municipalities on Broadband Data Analytics

City of Hamilton: In July 2020, R2B2 helped City of Hamilton launch its 2020-2021 Broadband Study. The City is working with R2B2 to study the economic benefits of broadband investment across our communities. The study examines how all residents, rural, home-based business, farms, and businesses currently use the internet. Innovative methods in this project include the use of the City’s community engagement platform, complete with a Connectivity Map.

Oro-Medonte Township, Simcoe County: In the late summer and autumn of 2020, R2B2 supported Connect Oro-Medonte’s Internet Connectivity Task Force composed of Township staff and community representatives. R2B2 provides analytical feedback on their survey data collected from residents and businesses in Oro-Medonte. R2B2 also shared data analysis from the SWIFT surveys and historical datasets from M-Lab Network Diagnostic Tool.

Durham Region: In December-September 2020, R2B2 supported Invest Durham’s efforts for better broadband. The collaboration led to creating a “One Minute” mini-survey tool. R2B2 submitted an 84-page report to Durham Region complete with extensive aggregate data analysis and mapping.

City of Kingston: R2B2 supported City of Kingston and Utilities Kingston partnership with Queen’s University and local research firm Limehouse Analytics in the Kingston Broadband Analytics Survey. We shared ideas and lessons learned from SWIFT surveys and provided peer review on summary data analysis. Past research at Queen’s University’s Monieson Centre for Business Research involved partnership between universities and municipal stakeholders like the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus and Eastern Ontario Regional Network. This model of collaboration helped to our shape R2B2’s vision and work on better broadband across Ontario, and when possible, share our experiences across Canada and to the rest of the world.

Halton Region: In 2017-2019, R2B2 was invited by Halton Region and its contract with BDO to support the Needs Analysis: Current State of Broadband in Rural Halton. In 2020, Halton Region  issued a request for proposals to improve rural broadband Internet access. Collaboration with Halton Region is one more example of how R2B2 mobilizes knowledge and data resources for evidence-based decision-making and investment in better broadband.

Puslinch Township, Wellington County: Even when some parts of a municipality like Wellington County build out broadband infrastructure other smaller communities continue to organize efforts for better Internet access. Puslinch Township, located just south of the University of Guelph, asked R2B2 to share knowledge and mobilize new data and information.  Together with a local firm, Clearcable, their community task force the Puslinch Highspeed Internet Committee initiated a Facebook survey. R2B2 shared and compared data analysis from the SWIFT surveys and historical datasets from M-Lab Network Diagnostic Tool.

Guelph and Wellington County: Our own home city and county for the University of Guelph regularly interacts with R2B2 on various information searches and connectivity events.  Guelph/Wellington has Internet and “smart” cities initiatives encouraging feedback through the SWIFT surveys with information shared to food, social and health service initiatives like Toward Common Ground and Our Food Future/Smart Cities Challenge.

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.

Niagara Region: In 2016, R2B2 supported a Broadband Feasibility Study for Niagara Region. We helped to collect information that informed SWIFT program development and identified gaps in rural Niagara and their impact on households and businesses.
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Thematic Studies

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

Other Actvities

R2B2 is part of university networks such as Digital Future. 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.

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Building a Connected

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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.