The UM System Broadband Initiative
In 2019, University of Missouri Extension, alongside the University of Missouri System (MU, UMSL, UMKC, S&T), launched the Broadband Initiative. At the time, broadband was identified as a solution to the four grand challenges facing Missouri – advancing educational excellence, increasing economic opportunity, promoting health and well-being, and supporting precision agriculture – and an issue that an interdisciplinary team could begin to tackle.
Bringing together faculty, researchers, engagement specialists, legal expertise, mapping, and cybersecurity, the UM System Broadband Initiative was formed. The Initiative’s main objectives include:
– Advising communities and conducting broadband needs assessments
– Introducing communities to opportunities that increase digital literacy
– Increasing broadband adoption and affordability
– Connecting community stakeholders to legal expertise and subject matter experts
– Promoting the use of broadband-based technologies and applications that help to address MU Extension’s four grand challenges
– Evaluating and sharing results, to develop “best practices”
Why is the UM System involved in broadband expansion?
Almost a century ago, many Missourians went without essential resources, equipment, and services we now take for granted because they lacked reliable and affordable electricity. Now, just as it was then, it is the role of the state’s land-grant university to help extend knowledge, expand infrastructure, and promote access. It is also the responsibility of the University, and its privilege, to partner with faculty, researchers, experts, community members, local leaders, and state decision-makers to ensure equitable distribution of broadband and broadband-related resources across all parts of Missouri.
What is MOBROADBAND.ORG?
MOBROADBAND.ORG is a free web-based resource. MOBROADBAND uses SourceLink®, a proven resource connector software, to encourage the creation of teams devoted to the expansion of broadband and adoption of broadband-based applications in business, agriculture, education, government services,, and healthcare.
The site catalogues over 100 current research, community education and service projects related to broadband expansion. MOBROADBAND hosts resources for broadband planners and broadband consumers (anyone in Missouri who uses the internet to live, work, or play). MOBROADBAND also features resources to help communities assess:
– Appropriate technologies to meet their broadband infrastructure needs
– Available financing and funding resources for broadband projects
– Strategies to educate the public on how to use broadband-based applications
MOBROADBAND also connects with All Things Missouri, a web-based resource developed by the MU Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES). CARES provides MOBROADBAND with access to its databases and mapping engine – helping planners and consumers visualize broadband access and adoption, educational outcomes, employment, health, and other related social determinants.
Cutting-edge technologies— such as internet based business, precision agriculture, next generation precision healthcare, eLearning, smart infrastructure and smart government — are key to improving lives and opportunities for Missourians.
Twenty-first century technologies equire access to reliable, high-speed internet and a population trained to use them effectively. Yet, many areas of Missouri currently lack the broadband infrastructure necessary to use these new applications. Almost 20% of Missourians — more than 1.2 million citizens — do not have access to high-speed internet.
Through the Broadband Initiative, the UM System realizes the potential impact of broadband expansion on our state’s health, wealth, education, and land. The UM System has committed to partnering with state and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit stakeholders to share knowledge, resources, and tools.
Community/Test Bed Projects
UM System faculty and researchers coordinate with state and local government, business, nonprofit and community leaders to develop public-private partnerships that:
– Test and evaluate new broadband technologies and applications
– Develop best practices for financing and decision making
– Create and test education programs to enhance broadband use in select Missouri communities
– Develop a template to replicate similar high quality, high-impact projects statewide
A 2020 effort to bring affordable and accessible broadband internet to Bollinger County, Missouri, where four out of five residents lack access, serves as a model for broader, actionable efforts to bring high speed internet to rural areas of the state. Results and lessons learned from projects like this are available through the Missouri Broadband Resource Rail so that they can be applied in other settings across the state.
Ongoing Broadband Initiative
The UM System Broadband Initiative aligns with the System’s land-grant and engagement mission and responsibilities to the citizens of Missouri. Core to our work is sharing university research, science, knowledge and expertise — in this instance, to foster statewide broadband expansion and adoption of broadband-based applications. This initiative and related partnerships will improve Missourians’ lives and realize the promise of bold initiatives such as NextGen precision health, eLearning, workforce development and training, precision agriculture, entrepreneurship and business development, and more.
The Missouri Broadband Resource Rail contains a links to other sites and copies of material posted on the web both by third parties unrelated to the University of Missouri System, as well as events related to Broadband infrastructure and Broadband-based applications that will be hosted by those third parties. The posting of these materials and events on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an expression of the accuracy of views expressed or an endorsement by the University of Missouri System.
The Missouri Broadband Resource Rail was created by:
UM System, MU Office of Extension and Engagement, SourceLink® at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and MU Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES).