Western profs complete state technology study

Mai Hoang

Two Western professors are helping businesses and individuals figure out how to maximize their use of the state’s technology.

Linda Johnson, a computer information systems professor, is on sabbatical as president for the Center for Information Technology Enterprise, a company that provides technological expertise to companies and governmental and educational institutions in the state.

This past year, CITE has been working on a study examining the bandwidth, access and usage of the state’s network.

Computer Information Systems head Jeff Butterfield worked with Johnson on the study this summer. Butterfield and Johnson have worked together on a similar project in Bowling Green.

The state and its regions need to embrace technology to be economically competitive, Butterfield said.

“We need to teach businesses how to change their business practices to take advantage of the resources we have available,” he said.

The study’s findings will be accessible to businesses and individuals on its Web site at www.connectkentucky.com later this month.

The study’s findings conclude the first year of a three-year plan. The study will set benchmarks, then CITE will examine how the network has progressed against those benchmarks in the next two years.

The study is funded by various companies throughout the state. The state’s office for the New Economy, a sector of Gov. Paul Patton’s office that is working to attract hi-tech industries to Kentucky, also awarded CITE the bid to do the study.

Johnson said economic developers can use the information from the study to determine the state’s ability to accommodate high-tech businesses.

“This study is providing important information that economic developers have never had before,” Johnson said. “They need this information to recruit, attract and grow high-tech businesses.”

Although the study is not complete, there have been a few major findings.

According to the study, Louisville, Lexington and the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area have as much bandwidth as other metropolitan areas of their size.

“The state has a major Internet superhighway running through it,” Johnson said.

But access to that network needs improvement. Although areas in Eastern Kentucky are quickly getting high-speed Internet access, other areas are slower in getting access, making it more difficult for businesses.

“Businesses that don’t have access to affordable high-speed Internet connections don’t thrive in the new economy,” Johnson said.

Usage of the network is high, especially since services provided by the state government such as filing income taxes and applying for various licenses are available. They are still examining network usage in local governments.

Butterfield said this study will help Western contribute to the economy in the region and in the state.

“Western is probably the largest economic driver in the region,” he said. “. I think it’s important that Western plan strategically not only for it’s own growth and development but what it could do to contribute to the growth and development to south-central Kentucky.”

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]