Brookline Interactive Group Needed More Fiber Capacity Due to COVID-19 Crisis, RCN Stepped in to Help
Crisis Resulted in Increased Demand for More Virtual Municipal Meetings
RCN Boston, an award-winning and leading provider of fiber and broadband services, and Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) today announced that the local cable access group now has more capacity than ever to carry public meetings and other events to the Brookline community. RCN recently upgraded BIG’s service to a new fiber connection which has improved the capacity and quality of Brookline public meetings being carried live on the Brookline cable access channels and through its streaming platforms. The increase in capacity is necessary as BIG has cablecast more than 100 live public (municipal, school and community) meetings virtually since March 16th due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“The coronavirus crisis has resulted in new and growing interest in local cable access channels to watch town meetings and other events produced by our community,” said Kathy Bisbee, BIG Executive Director. “With RCN’s help, we were able to increase the fiber connection so that our viewers can have relevant, timely and high-quality programming during this time when communication is more critical than ever before. BIG’s role is to provide a platform and facilitate a dialogue about the civic process that members of the community won’t get anywhere else. We are thankful to RCN for quickly responding to our request to help improve our ability to serve the community.”
The meetings facilitated by BIG, in partnership with the Town of Brookline, over the past two months on its government access channels include the Select Board, School Committee, the Brookline Public Health Department and Health Advisory Committee, virtual town hall meetings of the small business committee, communities of faith, nonprofits and aid organizations, and many other town and school sub-committee meetings. BIG’s responsive efforts included, in the first weeks of the pandemic, hands-on technical training programs and getting equipment to town and school officials for improved live meeting broadcasts, while managing the technical backend from its small team of four employee’s homes, all based outside of Brookline. Residents were inspired by the new programming and jumped on the content bandwagon, including MA State Representative Tommy Vitolo’s new program, “Tommy Town Television.” His show features state updates and experts on the Covid-19 pandemic, and this week’s episode highlighted his family’s “NY Italian Gravy Recipe” aka red marinara pasta sauce.
BIG’s coverage of Sunday mass from St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption Parish in Brookline, morning services from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and from Temple Ohabei Shalom’s Friday Shabbat services in Brookline are shared directly to the cable channels and live on YouTube and to Facebook, sometimes taking simultaneous feeds of multiple meetings or community events and thus requiring a faster pipeline to and from viewers.
BIG’s team didn’t stop at just relevant and newsworthy community content. Its staff created a Covid-19 specific non-profit database, surveyed residents about the kind of news and information they wanted, and supported other communities to have trouble-free municipal meetings. BIG provided trainings and speakers for a national webinar for community media and for the Brookline Chamber of Commerce on how to use storytelling techniques to promote small businesses.
Bisbee says recently added community programming has seen many new submissions of mask-making tutorials, sewing classes, storytelling for children, yoga, and Craft-Alongs from the staff of the Public Libraries of Brookline, workout sessions, meditation programs, weekly Rotary meetings, and more. All of BIG’s programming can be found online, at their website and is viewable on Youtube and via Facebook. Residents can find timely community resources, take BIG’s new online classes, and learn how to create and upload their own stories and community content at BIG’s Covid-19 page at www.brooklineinteractive.org/Covid-19.
“RCN is committed to providing the town of Brookline with the tools that it needs to communicate with residents through the local cable access channel operated by the Brookline Interactive Group,” said Jeff Carlson, SVP and General Manager, RCN Boston. “During this difficult time for all, we understood the importance of getting the new fiber to BIG as soon as possible so that it could carry out its responsibilities to the citizens of Brookline.”
As part of its agreement with Brookline, RCN also has constructed and provides an Institutional Network (INET) to the town of Brookline which is a dedicated secure fiber connection for municipal government including the schools and the police and fire departments.
About Brookline Interactive Group
Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) is an integrated media and technology education center and a community media hub for Brookline, MA and the region. BIG facilitates diverse community dialogue, incubates and funds hyperlocal storytelling, arts, journalism, media literacy, and technology projects, including Virtual Reality (VR), and serves over 500 youth and adults annually through innovative classes and partnerships. BIG offers extensive multimedia training, access to high-quality equipment, cohort programs and partnerships, and provides low-cost professional media services to non-profit organizations, education partners, businesses, and access to local government coverage.
About RCN Boston
RCN in Boston serves the communities of Allston, Arlington, Boston, Brighton, Brookline, Burlington, Charlestown, Dedham, Dorchester, Everett, Framingham, Hyde Park, Lexington, Milton, Natick, Needham, Newton, Peabody, Revere, Roslindale, Somerville, Stoneham, Wakefield, Waltham, Watertown, West Roxbury and Woburn.
RCN Telecom Services, LLC (www.rcn.com and www.rcn.com/business) provides industry-leading high-speed internet, digital TV and phone services for residential, small/medium and Enterprise business customers. As a five-time recognized provider, RCN has been acknowledged in multiple residential and business categories in PCMag’s Readers’ Choice Awards in the years 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019. RCN is YouTube HD Verified, earning the company the highest-ranking that Google offers. RCN is also a Netflix Open Connect partner, placing in the Top rankings on the Netflix USA ISP Speed Index in the markets RCN serves. RCN’s affordably priced advanced digital services are delivered through its proprietary, state-of-the-art fiber-rich network and supported by 100% U.S.-based customer service. RCN’s primary service areas include Boston, Chicago, Lehigh Valley (PA), New York City, Philadelphia (Delaware County) and Washington, DC.
About RCN, Grande Communications and Wave Broadband
RCN Telecom Services, LLC (www.rcn.com) Grande Communications (www.mygrande.com) and Wave Broadband (www.wavebroadband.com) form the sixth largest US cable operator and provide industry-leading high-speed internet, broadband communications solutions, digital TV, phone services and fiber optic solutions for residential and business customers across the United States. Together, RCN, Grande and Wave serves areas of Massachusetts, Chicago, Pennsylvania, New York City, and Washington, DC. (RCN); Texas (Grande Communications) and Washington, Oregon and California (Wave Broadband).