Whatcom Citizens for Responsible Technology is a group of seven citizens with a spectrum of skills who came together about 18 months ago to promote awareness and sponsor efforts to develop safe, reliable, and equitable Broadband connections.
Whatcom Citizens for Responsible Technology Envisions:
Whatcom County as hub of economic vibrancy that fosters social, intellectual, and business opportunities created by a robust Fiber Optic Network: “Fiber brings that entrepreneurial spirt. Fiber brings a relentless optimism and a willingness to act collectively that is fundamental to identity as a community. It offers a culture conducive to trying to be a little bit outside the box. There is no silver bullet in this…it is a silver buckshot approach. We have to do dozens of things because if we don’t do something different, we’re only going to get the same results….
(From Fiber, The Coming Tech Revolution and Why America Might Miss It, Susan Crawford, 140-141)
The Whatcom Citizens for Responsible Technology asks that Whatcom County Council and local elected officials, and candidates agree to:
• Adopt a Vision for a County Wide Fiber Network
• Pledge to work towards that Vision
• Commit to taking first steps with two simple actions:
1. Adopt and follow through on implementing a comprehensive Dig Once Policy. This policy, widely adopted in other locales, means that anytime a road is opened for work, conduit and fiber is installed. With proper mapping and strategic planning, segments of the system come into being.
2. Provide Open Access to both the existing and future fiber network to encourage competition among Internet Service Providers. This invites ISPs to compete for the opportunity to provide service from the fiber backbone to nearby homes and businesses.
A Publicly Owned Fiber Optic Internet would give Whatcom County a strong standing among Washington communities and create valuable infrastructure to:
• Create jobs: Fiber draws entirely new businesses, provides jobs for construction and maintenance of the system, encourages new internet service providers. Job creation and reduced unemployment increases tax basis.
• Provide a county-wide comprehensive Fiber-to-the Home/Business Network that addresses inequity by providing high-quality cost-effective connections to those in need, guaranteeing a level of internet access to all.
• Reduce Impact on the Environment. Fiber to the premises is the most energy-efficient and climate friendly form of transmission technology: reducing the need for more wireless antennas which require heavy power support, reducing need for system maintenance as fiber is more durable than copper wiring, reducing need for copper which needs to be mined, eliminating tree removal to enable adequate signals, as is necessary with wireless. Streaming with 4G creates over six times more greenhouse gas emissions than wired fiber optic.
• Increase property values—values proven to increase when premises wired for fiber optics.
• Provide a network that local government can leverage--to deliver data from current and future ‘smart grid’ sensors including those used for parking management, resource monitoring, air quality and other municipal needs. Long term strategic management saves money
To these ends, some of the group's actions have included:
- Sponsoring two well attended community events, one featuring Dr. Martin Pall, WSU Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Medical Sciences who focuses on EMF safety, and the other a showing of a locally produced documentary on EMF safety coupled with a panel of medical and technical professionals to answer questions.
- Creating a website: https://wa4safetech.com/
- Numerous articles in Northwest Citizen and Whatcom Watch.
- Request to City to create a Citizens Advisory Group to draw on the professional expertise of local technical, medical and businesspeople with regards to Broadband development.
- A developed mailing list to promote awareness and highlight opportunities to address national, state, and local legislators.
- Speaking at Bellingham City Council meetings.
The core group is seven citizens:
- Cindy Franklin: Long-time Bellingham resident and environmental activist, researcher and wireless radiation health and safety advocate.
- Linda Fels: Member of Bellingham Broadband Advisory Workgroup; retired software developer & nutritional therapist
- Atul Deshmane: Electrical Engineer and Public Utilities District Commissioner.
- Jon Humphrey: Tech expert, tech writer, initiator and volunteer in numerous tech projects and advocate for safe, effective, and equitable Broadband and Policy.
- Kevin Bardosh: Affiliate Assistant Professor, Center for One Health Research, School of Public Health, University of Washington.
- Danica Theissen: Writer, Researcher, Citizen Advocate. Expert in EMF intolerance syndrome.
- Leslie Shankman: Writer, Citizen Advocate, Committee Facilitator
Whatcom Citizens for Responsible Technology website can be found here: https://wa4safetech.com/