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Posted on: July 20, 2021

Blog highlights unexpected SJCOG effort — helping to expand region’s fiber optic network

INNOVATION STUDY COVER image

A transportation engineering blog is touting an effort by the San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) that might not seem a fit for the agency tasked with planning, financing and coordinating transportation, housing and habitat conservation for the region.

But it is a fit.

“The work of SJCOG over the past few years and the steps they’re taking to expand (San Joaquin County’s) fiber optic communication network is a strong example to other communities looking to combat challenges with commuting, congestion, and technology in transportation,” according to Streetwise, the blog for transportation engineering and planning firm Kittelson and Associates Inc.

The article explained that even before the COVID-19 pandemic the San Joaquin region faced heavy congestion as more and more people made the San Joaquin Valley their homes and commuted over the Altamont Pass to Bay Area jobs. Expanding the fiber optic communications network — the technology used to provide homes and businesses with high-speed internet, phone and TV services — potentially opens economic opportunities such as expanding telework options.

SJCOG launched a Transportation Innovation Study to identify and understand emerging transportation technologies — such as self-driving vehicles, zero-emissions vehicles, electric bus fleets, and high-speed rail — that may meet the region’s transportation needs. That will help area jurisdictions prepare for the future. Kittelson and Associates collaborated on the study that could also provide needed information to cities, the county and private businesses for possible policy and process updates to support fiber optic expansion, outline the current conditions, and potentially reveal future opportunities. 

While the study initially looked at congested commutes, the pandemic brought to light the challenges of “Zoom towns,” communities facing population booms due to a rise in fulltime teleworking. A working group of agency staff, private industry, academics, and local business development and community advocacy groups provided SJCOG and Kittelson with a picture of the region’s needs and challenges. That put SJCOG in a strong position to pinpoint solutions for the region’s greatest challenges — a quickly growing population, heavy peak hour congestion, and a lack of technology infrastructure to support advanced traffic management.

The working group also recommended SJCOG support the expansion of the fiber optic communication network. 

“Expanding the fiber network in the county is fundamental to implementing the region’s congestion management strategies, advancing the Internet of Things (IoT), and supporting business and home internet connectivity.… High-speed internet access makes it possible for residents to telework effectively and makes the communities of San Joaquin County more desirable for companies to set up satellite offices where their employees live,” the blog continued.

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