A Midlands county is the third one in the state to be recognized for giving residents greater access to broadband internet and using emerging technologies in all facets of daily life.
Connected Nation and Connect South Carolina announced Monday that Lexington County is the newest Certified Connected Community and the first county in the Midlands to be given the certification.
Connected Nation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, promotes access and use of broadband technology by encouraging public and private partners to work together efficiently. Connect South Carolina is a subsidiary of the national organization.
Lexington County Administrator Joe Mergo said the process to get the county better connected was indeed the result of “collaborative and community” partnerships.
“It was a complete countywide effort,” he said.
The Certified Connected Community team assesses a county over a 9-month period to determine how much access people have to high-speed internet through schools, the library system and municipalities. Businesses and community partners were also reviewed for their use of technology.
Lexington County scored a 114 out of a possible 120 on its 21st-century readiness.
The county’s connectivity means children in local schools are using technology on par with others around the world, non-English-speaking residents have access to online services tailored to them, residents can enjoy 50,000 hours of free digital literacy programming annually, and healthcare officials are improving the patient experience with new computerized initiatives.
County officials said this is playing out specifically at Lexington Medical Center, which is working with the county to “diagnose cardiac patients prior to their arrival to the hospital through the use of internet technology” and has “deployed remote patient monitoring … (for) seniors and persons living in rural communities.”
Being recognized as a Certified Connected Community also “speaks volumes to (being ready) for economic development” as cities and towns have demonstrated efficiency to high-tech companies seeking a place to invest, Mergo said.
The county is one of only 34 communities across the nation to achieve the Certified Connected Community recognition.
“We are really proud of that,” Mergo said.