Vt. gets disaster online resource funding - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. gets disaster online resource funding

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Sen. Patrick Leahy says expanding Vermont's digital world will help when real-life disaster strikes.

Leahy led Vermont's delegation in securing a $1.8 million grant to improve access to online resources and broadband internet to assist in economic recovery. The Vermont Council on Rural Development will deploy those funds to expand internet access and town-based social networks in 25 of the communities hit hardest by Tropical Storm Irene.

Leahy says areas with strong online connections are recovering faster than others.

"Vermont Council on Rural Development is going to help strengthen our already well-connected physical communities by making them well-connected virtual communities. The key to success is to make sure people can not only get online, but once they're online they know where the resources are," said Leahy, D-Vermont.

The rollout is scheduled to take place over the next 18 months. Efforts will range from expansion of locally based online communities such as Front Porch Forum, to partnering with IBM to create three Microsoft academies in Vermont. VCRD spokespeople say about 25 communities will receive extensive upgrades.

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