Are You Ready for Telecommunications?
Telecommunications Readiness Inventory
What is the Telecommunications
Readiness Inventory (TRI)
For any community, technology must be valued not for only the
information it carries, but for the quality of the relationships
that it helps to build. The quality of life in rural communities
has been and will be the main reason people choose to live there.
Telecommunications can enhance economic development without changing
the rural quality of life. Telecommunications has the potential
to change the dynamics of communication on many levels. In the
past, barriers related to bandwidth, cost, and distance have limited
the use of communications technologies. Only the most commercially
viable applications exploited these technologies. As these barriers
become less significant, more and more users will share in these
resources, changing the way people communicate and pursue their
goals. Users will structure networks within this new paradigm
in a variety of ways.
Communities making investments in telecommunications technology
need to make decisions within an environment where information
is abundant and their decision-making incorporates the value added
of timely and accurate information. To understand the dynamic
nature of telecommunications infrastructure investment, the Laboratory
for Community and Economic Development at the University of Illinois
has created the Telecommunications Readiness Inventory (TRI).
The TRI is a diagnostic and evaluation tool designed to provide
policy makers with greater insight on how to best allocate investments
for technology adoption and for community and economic development
The TRI is designed to evaluate different aspects of the telecommunications
infrastructure in your community. These worksheets are designed
for small towns usually in a rural setting. It can also be used
by neighborhoods. Larger communities would not have sufficient
space on the worksheet to inventory all of their telecommunications
Because this, tool focuses on various issues and is comprised
of many questions, it is impossible for a single member of a community
to answer all the questions included in the TRI. It is important
to elicit input from a diverse group of community leaders; therefore,
a committee representing the community should be called to direct
this activity. What is the best way to do that?
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The TRI as a Benchmarking Tool
The TRI surveys calculate a score or index value based on how
a community evaluates its telecommunications infrastructure. The
score, itself, may not truly be a good surrogate for the state
of telecommunications in the community; however, looking at the
index over time allows us to measure change and progress toward
community-driven goals. In this capacity, the TRI becomes an effective
benchmarking tool. The TRI can be completed now to create
a baseline measure of your community’s level of infrastructure.
Use this tool again in six months, in one year and in two years
to measure progress toward meeting your local community goals.
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How Should A Community Use the TRI?
Use a projection unit and computer and login to the TRI and project
the survey on a screen. A committee of community leaders can go
through the questionnaire and shout-out answers to the survey.
One person serves as a recorder checking responses to the questionnaire
online. This process
would be enhanced if a facilitator managed the activity. The
facilitator will make certain that there is full participation
enabling group decision-making. The facilitator will bring the
group to consensus as they answer each of the questions.
Print copies of the TRI and ask each member of the committee
to answer as many questions as they can. Then, at a group meeting
the committee can come to consensus as they complete the questionnaire
as a group.
At the end of the activity, the committee can have immediate
feedback by submitting their responses. The TRI calculator will
instantly assess a score that can be used as a baseline or benchmark
of community development capacity.
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The TRI Surveys
TRI explores different aspects of the telecommunications infrastructure.
Part A, the Telecommunications Quotient, allows an individual
to measure their affinity toward using telecommunications. This
survey can help individuals understand their own attitudes toward
telecommunications innovation. The Quotient is based on eight
questions focusing on the use of email and Internet resources.
The score calculated at the bottom of the survey reflects the
respondent’s values toward technology. A score less than 20 suggests
that the individual is not at all comfortable using telecommunications
technologies on a regular basis. A score of 20 to 40 indicates
that the individual may not be completely comfortable with using
telecommunications technologies. A score of 40 or greater implies
that the individual has incorporated telecommunications technologies
into everyday life.
Communities can use this section of the TRI when they first begin
to address community issues related to telecommunications. The
questions can become a catalyst for discussion about the role
of tele-communications technology. The Telecommunications Quotient
can be used to benchmark change in attitudes and opinions as this
technology becomes more common in the community.
Part B is a survey of how well the community incorporates
telecommunications and Internet technology into community life.
The survey includes questions related to the local web presence
and local telecommunications services; and the way public and
community agencies are incorporating information and communications
technologies into their daily operations. The score calculated
at the end of the survey represents a community’s level of telecommunications
infrastructure at any point in time. The community can return
to the site to update the information and monitor change in the
infrastructure. Use this score only as a measure of progress toward
the spread of telecommunications technology in the community.
Part C provides a worksheet to use in creating an inventory
of telecommunications services. This final section of the TRI
asks for information about the Internet services provided to the
community. Some of the information needed for this survey is more
difficult to collect; however, completing the worksheet will help
a community better understand where resources should be directed.
The tool is also useful as a community negotiates with telecommunications
providers to assure they receive the spectrum of services that
they believe are necessary for their community.
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Logging on to TRI
To login to TRI, go to http://www.ag. uiuc.edu/~lced/tcii/ Enter
with an easy to remember User ID. Your privacy will be protected,
the Laboratory for Community and Economic Development does not
release the data collected to any third party. Each time you access
the site, use the same ID, the information you inputted earlier
will be stored and displayed. Select Part A, B or C and begin
to enter your information. If this is your first time at the site,
begin with Part A and test your telecommunications quotient. Especially
for Parts B and C, print the forms and seek out others in your
community that may be able to help answer those questions where
you were not sure or did not know the answer. Once you are satisfied
with how you have completed the survey, then enter your information
one more time. When done, click on the bar at the bottom to calculate
your telecommunications index. Return to the site often as you
make progress on telecommunications and economic development initiatives.
Use this tool as a benchmark of development in your community.
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How Does the TRI Benefit My Community?
Completing the TRI surveys provides communities with valuable
insight to formulate community-wide policy for allocating funds
for telecommunications initiatives. The surveys highlight gaps
in community telecommunication infrastructure; help identify areas
where local community groups could collaborate to more effectively
use resources; and provide direction for short term and long-term
investment. TRI, used as an evaluation tool, can lend insight
to some of the less tangible outcomes of telecommunications investments,
such as greater community collaboration.
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Using the Community Development Capacity Index
in Conjunction with TRI
Together, the two tools provide insight to telecommunications
investments in the context of the community as a system.
Investment in one sector cannot be made without consequences in
another. Whereas CDCI explores the community capacity infrastructure,
the two tools used in conjunction can improve understanding of
how local telecommunications goals are integral to community development
goals. These tools contribute to the knowledge base of the social
applications of telecommunications and information technology,
which will help accelerate the diffusion of technology innovation,
especially in rural areas. Find the CDCI at www.ag.uiuc.edu/~lced/surveys/
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Complete the CDCI and TRI now to create a baseline measure of
your community’s readiness to undertake community and economic
development activities related to telecommunications. Use this
tool again in six months, in one year and in two years to measure
progress toward meeting your local community goals. Click
here to start.