Setting Your Goals

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, toward 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 toward 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 toward reaching outcomes. For example, forming a new broadband committee is an excellent and often necessary first step toward 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 and possibly not achievable. Also, 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% 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:

  • 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 the current broadband situation.
    • Assess current data for accuracy.
    • Identify gaps in broadband availability.
    • Identify current demand through surveys and other means.
    • Predict future demand.
    • Assess the current inventory of physical assets.
    • Assess the advantages and challenges presented by the area’s geographic features.