Students in the School of Urban & Regional Planning conducted an economic impact analysis of extending the current fiber optic system and provided recommendations on how best to continue enhancing the service and a 28E partnership between six stakeholders.
Since 2007, multiple stakeholders in Winneshiek County have been working towards the goals of connectivity, service sharing, economic development, and disaster recovery through the development of fiber optic broadband technology. In 2010, these efforts were formalized by the establishment of a 28 E partnership that includes six member organizations. These members are Winneshiek County, the City of Decorah, the Decorah Community School District, Luther College, Winneshiek Medical Center, and the Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission. Together, these partners have succeeded in developing a fiber optic backbone known as Decorah MetroNet that contains 144 fiber strands and stretches across 8 miles to serve 17 sites in Central Winneshiek County. The impact of this backbone has exceeded the goals of the partnership and garnered support and excitement from communities throughout the county. As only about 40% of the capacity of the backbone is currently being used, these six member organizations are now interested in extending the fiber optic network to users who are located both within and beyond the current service area.
The students created a plan that provides recommendations on several ways that fiber optic service can be expanded in Winneshiek County, with associated research on how the Decorah Metronet Board 28E partnership can organize itself to best provide each type of expansion; a poster displaying recommendations and results; and a presentattion displaying recommendations and results.