The California San Joaquin Valley contributes billions of dollars to the nation’s agricultural economy each year, and with drought threatening the region, digital technology is becoming more important to farmers than ever. New robots, sensors and devices could optimize farming efficiency and help sustain growing populations, but not without better infrastructure.
Wireless broadband is unavailable in parts of the region, according to reports. But researchers need specific data to show where gaps in wireless Internet connectivity exist. That’s why the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is partnering with local government and colleges.
A look at CPUC’s mobile broadband availability leads an observer to believe there’s little work left to be done in the San Joaquin Valley, but that’s not the case, said Robert Tse, community planning and development specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Not only in San Joaquin Valley but all over the state, one of the common things that members of the public will come and complain about is the lack of broadband or poor broadband service in their area,” he said.
This effort will quantify those complaints and help lay an important foundation for other regional projects, like the Apps for Ag hackathon that will be held in Coalinga, Calif., between Feb. 20 and 22. The best agricultural apps won’t mean a thing if they can’t connect online.