Montgomery County, Maryland: Broadband Access and Environmental Protection

The challenge

UltraMontgomery, the broadband economic development program of Maryland’s Montgomery County, supports access to high speed broadband networks and is charged with ensuring that all area residents and businesses can participate in the digital economy.  Acknowledging the technology and skills gap between younger and older people, Montgomery County wanted to improve the ability of its seniors to actively participate in, contribute to, and reap gains from the modern economy.

In addition, the county’s Department of Environmental Protection recognized that its efforts to promote energy efficiency and conservation among residents would be more successful if it could incorporate its information into free technology training offerings that appeal to local homeowners and business owners, many of whom are older adults.

The strategy

To boost economic opportunity for seniors, import and adapt OATS’s successful Senior Planet program, to allow older Montgomery County residents to take free tech-themed courses, workshops, and lectures, primarily focused on financial mobility, at senior centers, public libraries, and recreation centers, while also benefiting from Senior Planet’s online content.To strengthen energy efficiency and conservation, offer Senior Planet programs that enable older residents to learn and apply useful technology skills, while blending into the curriculum specific information on how to save energy and reduce costs.

The solution

OATS developed strong working relationships with the County and local anchor institutions in order to carefully plan and successfully implement Senior Planet programs that served the specific needs of the county government and the residents it serves. OATS localized content by using its Senior Planet U online learning platform to customize each course with locally-sourced resources and content. For example, OATS worked with the Department of Environmental Protection to develop a new set of modular training materials explaining to seniors what smart home devices are and how they can be used to promote energy efficiency and reduce costs.