City Budget Hearing Presentation 1997
Statement before the
City of Rockville Mayor and Council on
RockNet FY'98 Funding
June 2, 1997
Good evening Mayor Krasnow, members of the Council, City Manager
Kukkhan, and other members of the city staff. I have had the
pleasure of meeting most of you before but for those of you that
don't know me, my name is John Herman. I am here tonight as
Treasurer of Rocknet speaking on behalf of our Community Networking
initiative on the Internet.
I want to strongly express our group's support for the City's plan
to hire a webmaster and urge even more financial support for our
efforts. More on this will be said shortly.
Rocknet's original core of volunteers first met about 20 months ago.
In less than a year, we have established a visible presence on the
World Wide Web and have begun a program of community outreach to
bring many community organizations on to the Web. Our site now
includes links to many of the organizations in Rockville that
capture and define the vibrant character and diversity of our
community. Through our efforts, and working with Dave Mays and the
Maryland State Library System, we activated an existing fiber optic
link that was not being used and acquired for the City of Rockville
Internet connectivity and server that has an annualized value of
approximately $18,000 and can serve thousands of Rockville
Many of you have seen our web site already. I encourage you to
visit it time and again because it will continue to grow and evolve.
Even without our own domain and little to no publicity, our web site
averages over a hundred visits per day. There is a link to us off
the main city page and we will shortly have our own domain at
rocknet.org, funded by our volunteers. All of this has been
accomplished with volunteer effort. Part-time dedicated support by
the City's webmaster will allow us to expand and maintain this
effort and increase our focus on other aspects.
What is it that we hope to accomplish? This is not technology for
technology's sake. Many positive goals can be achieved through
Rocknet. I want to describe just three broad goals to you this
evening: Promoting economic development, promoting civic
involvement, and community development.
Promote Economic Development. Rockville has a stated purpose of
attracting and retaining solid companies in high-technology. Make
no mistake, these companies have embraced the Internet in their
business. Rocknet reaches out to these companies. It lets them
know that the citizens of Rockville offer an educated and skilled
labor pool from which to draw. It is for precisely these reasons
that Tracor and Vitro, two of Rockville's largest employers, have
asked to be linked to Rocknet. We are confident there will be other
corporations and businesses that will be asked to be linked, so that
they may form contacts with each other, with individual Rockville
citizens and with potential employees.
Promote Civic Involvement. You, our elected officials need to
hear the variety of public opinion on important issues in a forum
that allows careful consideration - the written word. We hope to
make Rocknet a forum for such an exchange. Soon, we will add a
threaded discussion group feature which will allow for constructive
community dialogue on the issues of the day. It is our intent to
have this feature in place before the city elections. With this
forum in place , we hope to provide both candidates and voters alike
a mechanism by which they can readily access the wide range of
opinion that may exist concerning any issue. All of us have
competing demands on our time; family, work, and community
commitments to name a few. By offering convenience and easing this
tradeoff we hope to encourage and understand the thoughts and
opinions of the "Many" and not just a select few. By putting in
place this forum we hope to be a focal point where all sides of an
issue can be brought forth for thoughtful consideration. At the end
of the day we hope this can aid you in making many of the tough
choices we have entrusted you to make.
Promote Community Development. Rocknet can assist in outreach
initiatives of the City, such as the Visioning process. As a
community, Rockville does not face a unique set of problems. There
are many common sets of issues facing communities whether it's
Charlotte, NC or our sister city Pinneberg as the mayor, Council
members, and City officials appreciate. Rocknet can assist in
tapping this experience and in finding possible solutions. One
member of our group, Jane Jacobs calls this "wheel knowledge" as in
"Let's NOT reinvent the wheel". The Internet is a resource for the
organization, management, preservation, archiving and access to this
type of knowledge. For example, our group has drawn on it heavily
in molding our organization. We are seeking out the "best
practices" of other community networks over the Internet. Better
information in hand should lead to better decisions.
Specifically, our community outreach programs include:
Bringing up community organizations on the web with support on web
site design and space and links to Rocknet
Seeking out underserved individuals and organizations and
facilitating their involvement with Rocknet
Recruiting and managing volunteers. For instance, we hope to
involve high school seniors in fulfillment of their community
Developing and delivering training.
Working with community leaders and groups to increase the value of
Rocknet in the community.
It is central to Rocknet's mission that if community networking over
the Internet is to succeed that it represent ALL of Rockville. To
achieve this we must facilitate access by the underserved segments
of our population primarily our senior citizens and those that are
economically disadvantaged. This is an area where we'll need
In summary, we are asking the City to:
Fund the City's webmaster position and dedicate 10 hours of
his/her time to maintain and grow Rocknet.
Provide funding for our outreach efforts. We need to publicize
who we are to let citizens know we exist and attract them to
connect to us. This requires funding for brochures and
Recognize that in the short run we depend on you to help bring
access to this medium to the underserved segments of our
population. We'll need funding for Internet kiosks. At this
point we have discussed the need for two to three terminals in
each of City hall, the library, Senior Center and in neighborhood
locations such as Lincoln Park and Twinbrook. At this time, we
are still exploring design and implementation issues before we
identify them as committed projects with a specific budget.
In the meantime you can be assured that the funds you invest in us
will yield many dividends in achieving these shared goals. We will
continue to do a lot with a little. Rocknet will continue to rely
on volunteer efforts.
A final note... For others listening to me now, we welcome any and
all who want to get involved in building Rocknet. You may send me
email at firstname.lastname@example.org or to the new webmaster
Thank you for your time. I am happy to answer any questions you may
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Last Updated: July 7, 1997