The cities, counties, school systems, public libraries, and other anchor institutions that will be connected to the OMBN submitted more than 100 letters of support on behalf of the OMBN grant application. The letters described the wide range of applications envisioned for the new network, including interoperable public safety communications, expanded Internet access at schools and public libraries, and videoconferencing to support rural healthcare initiatives.
Nancy S. Grasmick, State Superintendent of Schools, summarized many of the educational applications when she wrote:
As Maryland increases online testing for students, implements virtual learning opportunities for both students and educators, and strives to use both existing and emerging technologies in teaching and learning, greater access to high speed networks that can accommodate these other educational needs is critical. Such access will both help our students better understand the content and assist them in acquiring the 21st century skills that are essential in today’s society. Increases in uses of rich voice, video, and data, the desire to put computing devices in the hands of every student and educator, and the need to provide rich digital content require that schools have access to a backbone that provides high speed fiber to all locations. The critical needs to make our students college and career ready and to provide them with opportunities to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers so that Maryland can build a cadre of workers for our many highly technical businesses and government facilities also require networks capable of supporting all applications of technology.
In other examples, Frederick County Public Libraries noted that “[a] critical part of our mission in this economy is to provide online access because it provides a link to employment and training resources.” OMBN will help the libraries better support residents who depend on their local branches for Internet access.
In Charles County, the county commissioners see OMBN as a way to help “rural residents [who] are forced to travel long distances for college courses and economic opportunities available at the local, regional, state and national levels.”
In Dorchester County, the “project will provide critical and much needed infrastructure to… emergency services,” and will provide “the opportunity to be interconnected to an interoperable network that extends across the state.”
And the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) expects to “increase access to technology for after school computer clubs and senior citizen groups” and “improve the capability to create partnerships with institutions and businesses through the use of interactive online video and web conferencing.”