Brattleboro could do much better with technology, and as a result do better as a Town. There are some obstacles in the way, though:
Poor Internet Choices
Brattleboro choices for Internet are rather poor. Hardly anyone here gets 25 megabits down and 3 megabits up, a standard definition of broadband. To approach those speeds one must pay a small monthly fortune.
The Town promised a report on creating a broadband utility months ago, but it hasn’t been mentioned recently. Local broadband could provide much faster connections, with better service, at a lower cost, and create a new income stream and local jobs in the process.
Spotty Cell Service
I’m not a cell phone user, so I don’t care, but reports continue to come in of spotty cell phone service in the area, including some key downtown locations. I may be wrong, but I hear rumor that tech folks like to use cell phones.
No Place To Buy Parts
With the closing of BRW/Radio Shack, Brattleboro has lost its only real source for electronics parts. Hardware stores have a few items, but we no longer have a place to, say, pick up parts to make or repair electronic gizmos.
Invisible Maker Scene
There have been a couple of attempts to create a place for Makers – people who tinker with technology. None have been terribly successful. The Estey Organ Museum tried to create something a while back, and the newer Brattleboro Area Makers has been relatively quiet. (Search for Brattleboro Maker Space and Monadnock come up….)
No Good 3-D Printing
Brattleboro has excellent 2-D printing, but 3-D printing options are very limited. The ability to print 3-D objects easily would be a useful community service, even though most people probably don’t realize it yet.
A Tendency To Use Major Corporations Rather Than Local Options
This is tough, but local consumers have increasingly supported major corporations to the detriment of local business. BRW/Radio Shack is an example. I asked them where we could go after they closed and the answer was “online.”
I know people who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Walmart but use Amazon. I know people who say they support local, but get their printing done at VistaPrint. There are people who will gladly write all day, unpaid, for the Facebook corporation, but won’t send a letter to the editor of a local paper.
Where We Are Doing Well
We do have coffee shops and place for people to meet. We do have some internet and some cell phone service. Schools are beginning to work Maker projects into what they offer.
Most of all, we have the talent. We have everything we need here to do everything we need to do here. We have coders, designers, copywriters, artists, animators, videographers, manufacturers, accountants, bankers, and so forth.
If we changed our attitudes just a little bit, we could protect these local resources and build upon them. Brattleboro should make a push for municipal broadband. BDCC should work to attract an electronics parts store. Makers should be as active and visible as NEYT or NECCA. SeVEDS should help local printers add 3-D capabilities. And people should support local options for websites, graphics, videos, printing.