Last week, we had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Mark Wolfe to present a R2B2 project seminar. His topic “Rural broadband in Alberta” provided us with a synopsis of the Digital Futures Symposia, convened annually in Alberta since 2013 with the most recent event held on October 15-16, 2015, in Olds, Alberta. Mark Wolfe’s presentation highlighted a some key points for consideration including the following:
- Alberta, like Southwestern Ontario, is remaking its rural and economic regional identity through new broadband investment strategies. In the words of Mark Wolfe, “a region is not a region unless it knows it is a region” and from the R2B2 project we can add the following, “a region like SW Ontario knows it is a region when it takes on the challenge of rural broadband!” A case in point: Niagara Region teaming up with the Western Ontario Wardens Caucus on the proposed SWIFT Network (www.swiftnetwork.ca).
- Mark Wolfe congratulated the Ontario Agricultural College on R2B2project.ca and he argued that we lack the type of communications that helps individuals and organizations across Canada’s various provinces and territories to exchange experiences in rural broadband and its relevance to communities and regional development. He proposed that we consider a Canadian magazine along the lines of Broadband Communities (http://www.bbpmag.com/) in the USA.
- There is still alot of research to be done, says Mark Wolfe. Efforts, for example, for data stewardship and interactive GIS mapping of connectivity are essential. Solid research supports platforms for multi-stakeholder deliberations and decision-making.
Our thanks from the R2B2 team to Dr. Mark Wolfe, and to guests from the general public as well as OMAFRA, MEDEI, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, colleagues from Ryerson University and University of Guelph staff, faculty and students who were able to join us for this seminar!