Coalition meeting update – next steps

Our coalition met Tuesday night to figure out where to go from here. It’s flattering to be invited by Mayor Narkewicz to help draft the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the city for a formal survey of the Northampton community. 

Since we met with the mayor in July, we have provided Antonio Pagan, the City’s Chief Information Officer, with residential and business surveys we created. Our business survey was sent to the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce some months ago. Since we expect another business survey will be created by the vendor awarded the RFP, we reached out to the chamber’s new executive director asking him to suspend that survey.

These surveys may or may not be used by whoever is awarded the RFP. Our residential survey was sent to the mayor in 2018, so we will look into updating it. We will compare our older residential survey and update it with ideas generated in our revised business survey. There are some questions that deserve to be added:

  • Ask for the number of devices used in a household
  • Ask for a willingness to pay upfront for fiber as a way to put together a pool of capital to fund the network’s construction
  • Ask whether residents believe that the network’s revenue should be used in part to fund Northampton Community TV

Mr. Pagan is looking at RFPs used by other cities for similar surveys. We have done some research of our own and plan to do more and forward our results to Mr. Pagan. We haven’t found much online, but we will reach out via email to a number of similar communities including the City of Loveland, Colorado. We based our surveys on ones Loveland created.

There are other potential uses for a municipal network, aside from providing internet services. For example, it might allow Columbia Gas, National Grid and the city’s Water Department to collect meter readings remotely. Energy use could be monitored in real-time, potentially allowing Northampton to become a “smart city”, allowing us to fine-tune energy use during peak demand.

We will be reaching out to the League of Women Voters so we can ask candidates questions about the proposed municipal network at their planned forums this fall.

We will also be reaching out to all candidates for the city council we haven’t spoken to. We hope to meet one-on-one with each candidate to hear their concerns, present our views and provide information.

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