- Associated Press - Monday, May 5, 2014

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) - Dodge City and Ford County are among pilot communities that will identify long-term structural and service needs for broadband internet service.

Kansas Statewide Broadband Initiative Director Stanley Adams said the other three pilot communities are Topeka, Fort Scott, Norton and their counties.

“The goal is focused on broadband technology being harnessed for further economic development,” Adams told The Dodge City Globe (https://bit.ly/RcnNfG ).

The program, which is funded through a federal grant, provides access to tools, expertise and resources for communities to identify their broadband needs. The program involves identifying connectivity needs, stakeholders and how to expand access. Each of the pilot programs involves the cities and their counties, and seeks to address urban and rural needs.

“We want to make resources available for the local community to drive the bus, if you will, rather than the have the state formally saying ‘This is what you need to do in your community,’ ” Adams said.

Jane Longmeyer, Dodge City’s information officer, said one example of a potential need is wireless access for tourists.

Adams said while local service providers would be responsible for expanding service by understanding the needs of the community, officials will be better equipped to determine their desires and educate the public on how broadband connections can improve their lives or businesses.

“One way to think about it,” Adams said, “we’re making it easier for a community to coalesce around some priorities.”

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Information from: The Dodge City (Kan.) Globe, https://www.dodgeglobe.com

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