NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Preparing for the worst, promoting the best

Reading the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle Business section I came across this headline: “2 out of 3 business say they’re unprepared for bird flu.” (no available link) Which raises the question, are Nevada County Businesses and Government agencies making any preparations for a global flu? According the article by Marilyn Geewax, it is mainly small business that are ignoring the potential threat. A risk management company recommends that companies prepare for a virus that could sicken, or even kill employees, disrupt supply chains and shut down essential services. Large companies like American International Group, and making plans for their employees to telecommute. “We need to make it possible for those key people . . . to be able to work at home.”

I have written in earlier post about traffic congestion benefits of telecommuting, now here is a clear case for public heath benefits, should we have a global flu pandemic. On method of managing the pandemic will be to quarantine the sick. Others will chose to quarantine themselves by not going out in public, including to work. By setting up a telecommuting infrastructure now, our local business can be prepared for the loss of key employees during any future pandemic.

The problem is, we do not have broadband coverage in all area of the County. The areas of potential coverage can be found on this map, and those areas without coverage. Scroll down this page and you can download a broadband coverage map in pdf. map.

As part of the our preparation for a flu pandemic the County should pressure current broadband providers to expand coverage to the the whole county. Or, as other communities are doing the are developing their own broadband networks, for use by public safety, utilities and business, using WiFi and WiMAX technology. Here is a link to one example in rural Oregon.

Having a county wide broadband wireless network can reduce traffic congestion, by promoting work from home. Access to broadband is a key factor in the real estate market, no broadband, no sale. Having more broadband coverage makes more houses available to home based business. Having the capability to work from home, enables companies and government to provide critical services during a flu epidemic. The rapid flow of satellite , data bases, and video information to our public safety teams at any disaster improves their efficiency and our safety.

I recommend our public officials, small, and large business take a serious look at how county wide broadband could reduce risks, promote home base businesses, while improving our quality of life. I have already proposed online shopping and delivery services that could be used to reduce traffic, and provide critical online buying and delivery services should the County experience flu epidemic. But, we cannot wait for it to arrive we must plan and act now!

The missing key to these benefits is universal broadband access for everyone in the county that wants, or needs, access to this critical communication technology. As a community, we must act now!

For a private comment to Russ or George, for public comment select comments below.

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