Richland County was officially named the first “Connected” certified capital community in the United States at a ceremony Wednesday and released a technology action plan that offers steps to increase access to broadband Internet countywide.
As part of Connect South Carolina’s annual summit, which highlights the impact of broadband on the state of South Carolina, Richland County was the center of attention during a celebration that capped off a day of seminars and discussions at the USC Darla Moore School of Business.
“Broadband is one of the key factors for keeping Richland County globally competitive,” said Richland County Chairman Torrey Rush. “It’s simply fundamental and must be made available to all of our residents – not just the ones that live in the major metro areas.”
Rush attended the event with several other members of County Council, including Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson, who sponsored the Council resolution two years ago to start the certification effort.
Richland County has worked with Connect South Carolina since September 2013 on the Connected Community Engagement Program. This initiative assesses the local broadband landscape, identifies connectivity gaps and establishes technology-driven goals and objectives to increase broadband access, adoption and use for families, organizations and businesses throughout the community. Richland County met the requirements necessary to achieve the certified Connected community status.
“With the complete support of Richland County Council, Janet Claggett (the County’s Chief Information Officer) and the Richland County IT team demonstrated amazing creativity to pull off this massive project,” said Jim Stritzinger, executive director of Connect South Carolina. “Connect South Carolina applauds Richland County’s work to improve broadband access and invest in 21st century economic development resources.”
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. The other counties are Abbeville, Anderson, Greenwood and Lexington.
Connected certification affords a community an avenue to discuss its success and pursue opportunities as a recognized technologically advanced community. The Richland County Technology Action Plan unveiled at the event includes projects and action items related to upgrading 911 capabilities, improving online business services, identifying existing vertical assets, and analyzing local policies and ordinances. The certification is an important milestone as the team phases into implementing its newly established plan.
“Certification is wonderful,” Rush said. “However, we recognize that it is simply the first step in a long mission. Today’s high speed broadband will certainly be outdated in the near future. I’m thrilled to see the work that our Richland County IT team and Connect South Carolina have completed. We are committed to having strong information infrastructure and maintaining a roadmap for how we are going to make it happen.”
To view the Richland County Technology Action Plan, visit rcgov.us or connectsc.org.