WINNERS OF “BEYOND THE WALLS” AWARDS ANNOUNCED
Libraries in seven states to lead community TV WhiteSpace projects
San Francisco, CA, May 9, – The Gigabit Libraries Network (GLN), in partnership with San Jose State University’s School of Information (iSchool), announced today that a total of nine projects will receive funding and support to expand the Libraries WhiteSpace Project.
Sponsorship for the campaign originated through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS): ”Libraries Leading in Digital Inclusion and Disaster Response via TV WhiteSpace Wireless Connections.” Five libraries in ME, GA, NE, SD and WA will receive awards under the IMLS grant.
These funds will underwrite the costs of equipment and installation for libraries who’ve initiated partnership projects with other community institutions to explore and develop innovative uses for TV WhiteSpace (TVWS) network technologies to support remote fixed and portable library access points at new locations in their communities starting this summer.
One winning proposal from Beatrice, Nebraska gained support from the state CIO, “The State Office of the CIO has already convened a multi-sector TV White Space exploratory meeting. I believe that the findings of the Beatrice Public Library project will inform and potentially accelerate the deployment of TV White Space across other sectors, including K-20 education, agricultural research, telehealth/public safety, and biological research.”
Like WiFi, TVWS units use free open spectrum, requiring no third party carriers, ongoing fees, licenses or other permissions for use as wide area intra-facility networks. But unlike WiFi, TVWS has long range and penetrative capabilities that can support broadband connections over miles and around or through obstructions like trees and buildings.
“This may be the first time the economics of any infrastructure has favored rural areas because they typically have an abundance of valuable open public spectrum. The time has arrived for the country to finally take advantage of this powerful new communications resource, too long in the making,” notes project Co-director, Don Means of the Gigabit Libraries Network.
Four additional projects will be funded with support from state, local and private sources. While the Beyond the Walls awards will support library led projects in almost every region of the country, Microsoft and the Library of Michigan have stepped up to provide additional support to enable three additional projects. Another library applicant from Pennsylvania has obtained local support, making nine total participating projects in seven states as of today’s announcement.
“Microsoft is pleased to partner with the Gigabit Libraries Network and the Library of Michigan to empower libraries and other community institutions exploring the many applications for TV White Space connectivity in the state. We applaud the Institute of Museum and Library Services for its leadership in providing the core grant to enable the national Beyond the Walls initiative,” says Paul Garnett, Microsoft’s Director of Affordable Access Initiatives.
Details and objectives for each of the individual project plans are available on the Beyond the Walls page at GigLibraries.Net. Winning proposals have shown creativity in thinking of new ways and locations to install remote library WiFi access points. They also demonstrate an ability to collaborate with other community institutions like schools, health clinics, community centers, post offices, shelters, etc. An important secondary use for these TVWS enabled hotspots will be as redundant disaster communications resources, where the units can be installed for rapid redeployment to areas of need in times of crisis.
The Beyond the Walls initiative builds on the work of a grant in 2015 from the Knight Foundation to GLN in partnership with the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) to build preliminary analysis and orientation tools, including a 2 minute overview video, for libraries interested in exploring the capabilities of license-free TVWS equipment to inexpensively expand access to a range of institutional services.
“This initiative will further explore the role of libraries as leading community anchors promoting access and inclusion through strategic technology integration. There’s a nice intersection between what we’re implementing and the concept of community anchors, which has been used by IMLS to describe the role of libraries in providing civic engagement, cultural opportunities, and economic vitality to communities,” says project Co-director Kristen Rebmann of SJSU.
Project outreach and proposals review are being supported by the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB), the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) and the The Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC).
IMLS award winners
- Millinocket Memorial Library
- Millinocket, ME
- Twin Lakes Library System
- Milledgeville, GA
- Beatrice Public Library
- Beatrice, NE
- Huron Public Library
- Huron, SD
- Yakama Nation Library
- Toppenish, WA
Additional participating libraries
Take the self-paced course to delve into what exactly is TV WhiteSpace and how it can help your library extend services into new places and spaces around the community.
Unused license-free radio frequencies in the TV broadcast bands, available for anyone to use for wide area data communications. Wikipedia
Two things at least!
-Residing in lower radio frequencies, TVWS signals have the capability to travel for miles and pass through or around obstructions like trees and buildings that otherwise block or interfere higher frequency radios like traditional WiFi.
-No single entity owns or controls this powerful valuable open radio spectrum other than the public itself through its regulatory agency, the FCC.
That is THE question! How indeed? What we have seen already is that the most obvious benefit is that your library can provide more convenient WiFi access for the community in new places never before served. Parks, shelters, playgrounds, senior centers, post offices, and more are all candidates as new library hotspot locations. If you haven’t already, take 2 minutes for video to see more possibilities. But think up your own! Put it into a proposal and send it in! Your community will thank you.