County wants more broadband survey responses

CANTON — St. Lawrence County will augment efforts associated with its ongoing broadband survey to ensure maximum outreach and the most comprehensive results available, particularly dealing with those unable to complete the online survey due to a lack of internet connection.

Jason C. Pfotenhauer, deputy director of the St. Lawrence County Planning Office, noted that the county has made “a lot of outreach” with the survey so far, but added that there may be gaps in those able to access or learn about the survey.

The countywide assessment launched Feb. 19, and garnered roughly 950 responses by March 5. Of that number, 140 residents reported they are without a broadband connection or are unaware of their internet access capabilities. Of 29 commercial respondents, 12 said they are without internet access.

The survey will conclude April 30.

Mr. Pfotenhauer noted the importance of gaining the most responses available, asserting that the county’s understanding of “where the gaps are” in coverage will aid in future infrastructure projects and outreach.

Legislator Margaret G. Haggard, D-Potsdam, inquired whether hard paper copies of the survey may be distributed to extend the reach of the survey.

“We can certainly look into that,” Mr. Pfotenhauer said.

He added that the survey can be completed on either a computer or a phone with internet access, the latter of which he described as “ubiquitous” throughout the county. But a bandwidth speed test integrated within the survey does require a WiFi connection.

Legislator Larry Denesha, R-DeKalb, reported that he was initially “skeptical” about the assessment, finding it “a bit ironic that you were conducting a survey to see who had adequate broadband ... via computer.” Mr. Denesha voiced his overall support for the effort, but suggested that additional means of advertising, including the county-wide public transit system, may be a way to gain more responses.

“We’re never going to get everyone,” he said, “but I’m concerned that there’s some folks in some of the outlying areas that we’re going to miss.”

Legislator David W. Forsythe, R-Lisbon, also suggested distributing paper copies of the survey through the county Office for the Aging and its home-delivered meals program, which may also reach “people that might fall under the radar.”

“Great idea,” Mr. Pfotenhauer replied.

The survey is available at www.stlawrencecountybroadband.com. If you know someone who wants to participate but does not have internet access, they can contact the St. Lawrence County Planning Office at 315-379-2292 for assistance.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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