Setting Your Committee's Goals

Community Broadband Playbook

Top Takeaways

  • One of the first objectives of the broadband planning committee is to determine the specific broadband goals of the community.
  • Assessing the current broadband outlook is critical in identifying demand and gaps.
  • Set goals that are specific and attainable using the S.M.A.R.T. methodology.

At the risk of stating the obvious, a key role of the broadband planning committee is to plan, using concepts, components and guidance presented in this toolkit, towards broadband access for all.

But this raises an important point: What, specifically, is your goal? One of your first tasks as a committee is to discuss and agree on a set of specific, measurable goals for your community. If the committee does not have goals in place, how can it work together to devise the best strategies to meet those goals? Further, if the committee has no set goals, how can it know that its work has been successfully completed? As the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (BroadbandUSA) puts it in its national broadband adoption toolkit, you should begin with the end in mind.

It is not enough to simply set a goal of “broadband for all.” Rather, the committee must decide “what” will be accomplished, “who” will receive the benefits, and “when” the goals will be met.

Work towards making your goals “SMART.” SMART goals have the following characteristics:

  • Specific: The goal answers “what,” “why” and “how” questions.
  • Measurable: How do you know you have met the goal? What tangible evidence might be available in the future to measure the project’s success?
  • Achievable: Goals should challenge a community, but they also must be achievable. For example, the committee should reject the goal of deploying fiber to the home for every household in the region, because such a goal is likely not physically or financially possible.
  • Results-focused: Simply put, goals should measure outcomes, not programs or steps towards reaching outcomes. For example, forming a new broadband committee is an excellent and often necessary first step towards expanding access to broadband; however, it cannot be considered a goal itself.
  • Time-bound: Goals should have a deadline to create a sense of urgency and motivation.

As noted, a goal of “broadband internet access for all citizens” is not SMART. It is too general, not measurable, possibly not achievable, and there is no understood deadline. A better, SMART goal is as follows: By August 2019, the community’s anchor institutions (hospitals, emergency response departments, schools and colleges, libraries, government buildings and agencies) will have access to broadband internet. Other SMART goals might focus on the larger community: by August 2019, 95 percent of the county’s residential areas will have access to broadband internet services; or by August 2020, the town will provide free broadband internet access to shoppers and other citizens downtown.

The broadband planning committee has several other important roles, besides strategic planning and goal-setting:

  • Identify at least one “champion,” and the committee’s likely chairperson or primary contact person.
  • Gather input and support from public and private stakeholders.
  • Reach out to and engage the larger community.
    • Communicate needs and progress to key stakeholder communities and the public at large.
    • Communicate the benefits of broadband access, as well as other information, to the public.
  • Assess current broadband situation (see (link)).
    • Assess current data for accuracy
    • Identify gaps in broadband availability
    • Identify current demand through surveys and other means (see (link)).
    • Predict future demand.
    • Assess current inventory of physical assets (see (link)).
    • Assess advantages and challenges presented by the area’s geographic features (see (link)).

WRITING S.M.A.R.T. GOALS

This resource is a more in-depth guide on what S.M.A.R.T. goals are and how to write them. The resource itself isn’t specific to broadband but it gives a great overview of what each letter represents and how to apply that tenet to different projects and objectives.

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