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EMPG-S Wi-Fi Broadband Application FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are the site assessments listed as a flat fee?

No. The sites were listed with cost maximums for budgeting purposes. Existing sites that need to be evaluated would be allocated up to $50 per site and new sites that may take some additional leg work were allotted up to $100 per site. Assuming that multiple sites would be done in one day or trip, it is assumed that the travel time associated with adjacent sites would be averaged. If the sites were evaluated individually, it may be challenging to do each site for $50, but perhaps four sites can be done for $200. Time and mileage should still be tracked and reported and will be associated with the sites that were evaluated.

Is there a match requirement for this award?

Yes. As with any EMPG funding a 50% match is required for this award. This was mentioned in the RFP document under the first application requirement. The default value in the excel application reverted to 0% causing some confusion. The link is now fixed, but you do not need to download a new application; you can update the match percentatge to 50% and the calculation should carry through. Sorry if there was any confusuion. 

There is a task in the Scope of Work that talks about assisting PSD with project work, such as equipment selection, budgeting, planning etc. Does this need to be specifically captured in the application?

No, this does not need to be outlined per site in your application. This statement was included to capture the idea that PSD may have some follow up questions that you would need to address. This information could be related to budget, planning, equipment etc. but the RPC would not need to be the expert on the matter. PSD may seek a recommendation on the prioritization of equipment in your region, especially if the need identified is greater than the amount of equipment (or funding) available for installation.

Can my RPC evaluate sites outside of the region?

Yes. This was left open-ended in the application because and RPC’s personnel bandwidth may not match the number of sites within their region. We obviously want to ensure that no sites are listed on multiple work plans, but cross-regional coordination is allowable to enable more expansive site evaluation across the state.

What is the difference between an existing site and a new site?

Earlier this year, PSD gathered information about wireless hotspots across the state. In addition to gathering information about sites they were aware of through the Department of Libraries or State-run facilities, the crowd-sourced information from the public. Generally, existing sites fall into three categories: Public, Guest, and Possible. Public sites offer free public access without a need for login credentials. Guest sites are those offered to the public but require a password to gain internet access. Possible sites are those that were identified as likely to have WiFi access, but since they did not respond to the initial survey, it is unknown whether they can be used as public access points. These possible sites are primarily made up of town offices, schools, and libraries. Currently, only the public and guest sites are available on PSD’s website. The “possible sites” are available in the map data table, but are not displayed on the map itself.

A new site is one that does not exist on these lists and does not currently have WiFi available. This could be a building like a town theatre, municipal building, place of worship, or another private non-profit entity that would be willing to house equipment (potentially on the outside of their building) to provide public Wi-Fi from their parking lots.

How will the information be collected?

VEM is working on developing a Survey123 form that will allow for the data to be collected easily from a mobile device. The form will identify the site you are evaluating and allow for specific questions to be answered about the site. PSD will provide a protocol for site evaluation so that the sites can be evaluated consistently across the board. The protocol may vary based on whether the site exists or is a potentially new site.

What will the site evaluation entail?

A protocol is being developed to provide a step-by-step guide on what information to gather about these sites. This will include assessing the signal and internet speed from multiple locations at the site, and potentially from multiple devices if possible/warranted. The protocol will be release as soon as possible, and the Survey123 form will be built to match, making data collection and reporting fairly streamlined. The site assessments should each take approximately 15 minutes.

When are applications due?

The deadline for application submission has been set for close-of-business on Friday, July 17th. If you have any concerns about meeting this deadline, please contact Lee Dorf. Please submit your application materials to Lee via email.

Where do I go with questions?

Lee Dorf is the primary point of contact for VEM. Any questions related to the EMPG-S funding and application should be directed to him, as well as questions related to the Survey123 form.

Rob Fish is the primary point of contact for PSD. Questions related to the WIFI sites, data collection methods or process should be directed to him.