Local and State Government

Timbuktu Needs Broadband, Too

We don’t mean Timbuktu, Mali in Africa, but the proverbial “Timbuktu.” The rural, far away communities; those outside the big cities.

The pandemic made it very clear that the lack of reliable and affordable broadband in our communities is an economic and social crisis. In early 2021, we recognized this rising issue, and joined the National League of Cities to develop and pilot GIS solutions with their member cities that could be used by governments of all sizes to address broadband access. We actually won an award for our work. But that’s not why we did it.

We did it because we recognized that broadband was another location problem. With GIS tools, we knew governments would be able to solve pressing questions such as:

We released the free solutions that we created with NLC that you can download now. We are seeing governments leverage them to better understand their community’s needs, plan broadband expansion, efficiently partner with providers, secure funding, and fast-track future broadband investment.

You’re able to read this because you have access to broadband. So, there’s no excuse – download the solutions to address broadband in your community or print this out and mail it to someone without broadband. Whichever is easier.

About the authors

Christopher Thomas, Director of Government Markets on the Industry Solutions team at Esri team focused on state and local disciplines. He has over 30 years of experience working in and with national, state and local governments implementing technology. As a strategist and subject matter expert, Christopher works to identify emerging trends GIS can support.


Shannon Valdizon is the Marketing Lead for the State and Local Government Industry Solutions team at Esri. She has worked at Esri for the past decade with a team of subject matter experts and government strategists to identify emerging trends in government across the globe. These trends are translated into best practices for using geographic information systems (GIS) to help governments move towards a digital transformation. Shannon’s work has supported major initiatives with professional associations including National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, International City/County Management Association, National Governors Association, and more. Her most recent work includes initiatives like Smart Communities, Esri Maps for Public Policy, and addressing social equity which are all efforts dedicated to improving government efficiencies and more importantly the lives of citizens.

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