BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation is urging the business community to take a survey about broadband connectivity in the city.
As first reported in The Rio Grande Guardian, Lit Communities has been hired by the City of Brownsville to conduct the survey, which is titled Bring Better Broadband to Brownsville.
The issue is a top priority for local leaders because, according to data from the Census Bureau, Brownsville is one the least “wired” cities in the nation. Mayor Trey Mendez has made elimination of the digital divide one of his top issues.
“The lack of broadband in Brownsville households has become a hurdle, or even a wall, for the educational and workforce development in our community, especially for the under-resourced,” said GBIC Executive Director Mario Lozoya.
“We at GBIC are grateful and proud of the work being done by the City of Brownsville and LIT Communities to bridge this digital divide by bringing a faster and more reliable internet to our city.”
The survey can be found at https://brownsvillefiber.servicezones.net/CR00004
Along with GBIC, the City of Brownsville’s other partners are: Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, Brownsville Independent School District, Brownsville Public Utilities Board, Port of Brownsville, Texas Southmost College, and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. These entities have announced a new campaign to help bring faster internet and better internet access to online Brownsville citizens.
Lozoya said easier access to online materials will allow residents to take advantage of modern advances in tele-health, remote work and learning applications, e-government solutions, and more.
GBIC is asking that residents provide essential feedback about the service by taking the survey to share experiences, opinions, and broadband needs.
Participation will help GBIC to prioritize the sections of the community which will benefit most from being connected with faster speed and added reliability.
“We are excited to help build this strong connection with our community partners and to link together to upgrade our Brownsville network,” Lozoya said.
The survey will be open until the end of the year, but planning will begin as soon as community trends start to appear.
“We cannot afford to wait,” Lozoya continued. “The information we collect will assist the city of Brownsville in making the service the most beneficial it can be for the largest number of residents. We ask everyone to please take the survey today.
Mayor Mendez said citizens and stakeholders will be able to participate using a cell phone, tablet, or computer from any connected location. However, he said, those that can complete the survey from their home or business address are strongly encouraged to do so.
For those that can take the survey from home, there is an optional speed test component that will help planners map current accessibility across the community more accurately.
“During these challenging times, access and affordability factors are more important than ever before. As we think about technology advancements in our community, we need to plan with citizen needs prioritized,” Mendez said.
“There is a lot of benefit that comes with high speed internet connectivity. We need to be thinking carefully about how to ensure our citizens have access to tele-health, remote learning, e-commerce, e-government, smart home technology, and other important services that will help our community thrive. I am excited that so many community organizations have stepped up to partner with the city and prioritize this initiative.”
Rene Gonzalez, a Brownsville native now based in San Antonio, is chief strategy officer for Lit Communities. Gonzalez said that in the months ahead, citizen input gathered through the survey will be overlayed with infrastructure data to help planners identify the best paths, partners, and near-term opportunities that can be leveraged for additional infrastructure development.
Gonzalez said citizens will have until the end of the calendar year to share their feedback but planning efforts will begin as soon as actionable patterns begin to emerge from the community response.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the issue of the digital divide to the forefront of our community, we have seen how a lack of connectivity has impacted the sustainability, growth, and competitive advantage of commerce in the city of Brownsville,” said Esmy Villarreal, president and CEO of the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce.
“We are proud to be a part of this community-wide effort to close the digital divide in Brownsville that will accelerate the growth of our city in all aspects from education, to commerce, and beyond.”
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