The FCC released the National Broadband Plan today, setting out ambitious goals for how the federal government conducts business in cyberspace. The Plan targets several concrete goals, including

  • 100 million homes with affordable access to 100 megabit per second internet access.
  • At least one institutional (e.g., hospital or university) connection at one gigabit per second in every community.

Closer to open local government’s home, the Plan’s “Civic Engagement” chapter may raise the bar for municipalities in providing access to records and officials. Although the Plan is directed to the federal government, citizens are likely to expect the same level of service from all government agencies, including their local city hall.

Some Plan recommendations that could make their way to local government requirements in the next few years include:

  • All responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests should be made available online (rather than delivered only to the requester), in part to cut down on time and money spent processing multiple similar requests.
  • All government meetings, hearings, and town halls, should be broadcast online.
  • Government should accelerate the adoption of social media technologies given the success stories to date, e.g. 37 million views of H1N1 flu-related media feeds.

Given the potential impacts of the Plan (and technological innovation generally) local government stakeholders would be well-advised to educate themselves about broadband technology and its impact on citizen interaction with their government leaders.