(RC PIO) – Richland County will celebrate a technology milestone on May 13 when it is officially recognized as the nation’s first “Certified Connected” capital county.

The certification process required Richland County to study and document a number of key parameters relating to the access, adoption and use of broadband Internet.  Certification has implications for economic development, health care, education and more.

“The community has gotten together to study what they have, what they don’t have, and they have also constructed a strategic Technology Action Plan and identified priority action items,” said Jim Stritzinger, executive director of Connect South Carolina, the statewide nonprofit promoting the expansion of broadband. “This is a really big deal for Richland County.”

A technology advisory team, headed by Community Champion and Richland County Information Technology Director Janet Claggett  and members of the IT Department set out in the fall of 2013 to measure the County’s level of broadband, identify gaps and establish goals to increase broadband – or high-speed Internet – access. The Connect South Carolina staff oversaw the process of the technology certification program. Findings from the assessment and the County’s strategic action plan will be shared at a free community event Wednesday, May 13 at IT-oLogy.

One of the goals of the daylong event is to illustrate how certification will benefit all municipalities, communities, businesses and other entities that call Richland County home. Richland County is promoting the certification with the slogan: “We’re All Connected!”

Being “Certified Connected” means the County is in better position to attract and retain industries that rely on high-speed Internet and to ensure policymakers and residents understand the importance of having the right technological infrastructure in place.

The 18-month assessment project focused on three key areas:

  • Access: The technology infrastructure that is in place within Richland County
  • Adoption: The level at which residents are taking advantage of broadband service
  • Use: Whether residents are using broadband service to better their lives in the areas of economic development, government, education and health care

The resulting strategic action plan will help guide decisions to move the County forward.

With its certification, Richland County becomes the first “Certified Connected” capital county in the nation. Additionally, it is the fifth and largest county in the state to achieve the certification.

To get more details on what it means to be “Certified Connected,” attend the free CONNECTIONS 2015 conference from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 13 at the IT-oLogy Theater, 1301 Gervais St. in Columbia. Register at www.connectsc.org/connections-2015.

Sharon Sanders
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