After hearing a presentation from its Technology Cluster, the final of seven, members of the Long Term Advisory council (LTAC) discussed how best to eventually present their work to the Carroll County Board of Commissioners.
Considerations included whether summarizing the presentations would make them more accessible and whether that could be done while still representing all of the clusters fairly and not reducing the value of the months of work put in by members of the advisory body.
The seven clusters — agriculture, business, education, technology, recreation, arts and community services, health and wellness, and public safety — are joined by five citizen representatives from Carroll’s Commissioner districts and representatives from the real estate, planning and banking sectors.
LTAC is a purely advisory body formed to assist the commissioners by providing long-term context to their decisions and have met monthly since March 2017.
Bruce Holstein, citizen representative for District 4, envisioned a presentation of five or ten minutes per cluster, with some taking more or less so as not to lose people’s attention.
Members of the technology cluster said they had already condensed their presentation down from the 37 page report, and questioned how that could be done.
Martin Hackett, representing District 1, said abbreviating too much for the commissioners might not be good. He proposed to “let them see what these people have done over the past so many months. They’ve put a lot of hours and time in it,”
Holstein wanted to present between this year’s upcoming commissioner elections and the time when the new commissioners-elect would be sworn in.
“We should at least brief wherever we’re at the existing commissioners, with as close to our top recommendations and ideas as we get further. That I think we owe to this Board of Commissioners to give them a formal briefing,” Robert Meekins, citizen representative for District 5 said.
Members also discussed the public involvement in the report, and whether a presentation should be made to them separately from the commissioners or together.
“Based on what we’re doing, are we required to have a hearing or something? … I don’t know. I want to find out,” Holstein said. “I know we want to let the public know. I don’t know how to do that.”
The question was raised how to involve industry leaders and the mayors of county municipalities.
Tech cluster member Theresa Bethune, president of Freedom Broadband, suggested making the presentation as a podcast so it could be more engaging for those who weren’t able to attend or watch the meeting because of work.
The next LTAC meeting will be held Aug. 23.
In the beginning of Thursday’s meeting, the technology cluster made its presentation focusing on “mega trends” in technology for the next 30 years that the county should prepare for.
For context, the presentation began with a flash back 30 years to 1988, when 99 percent of households didn’t have cell phones and 100 percent didn’t have access to the internet.
“As Long Term Advisory Council, we were all tasked with the impossible: forecasting the future of our industry sectors and what the world might look like in 30 years," said Kati Townsley, executive director of the Carroll County Technology Council Inc. who delivered the presentation.
They defined the Technology Cluster’s mission as to “provide strategic foresight and vision identifying trends and assembling long-term recommendations regarding technology to advise the Carroll County Board of Commissioners in order to best prepare Carroll for the future.”
The broad items touched on were information/intelligence technology, artificial intelligence, broadband infrastructure, robotics animation, med tech, virtual, augmented and mixed realities, autonomous vehicles, drone technology, work force and skilled labor, collaborative workspace, internet of things/internet of everything, and space exploration mission to Mars.
Assembling the list involved going through the reports of every cluster and looking for the convergences and recurring themes, said Bethune.
Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, was in attendance in order to present a video which he had created for a previous State of the County Address. The video, titled “Grateful: Living in Carroll” was designed to highlight the benefits of living in Carroll and included statistics and views of local events and scenery.
He agreed with the cluster’s assessment, especially looking at the next 10 years.
“The next question is, ‘Well, certainty this is going to happen … what should we do about it?’”
Bethune said: “The goal here with everything we presented was, lets take what we do well, lets look at the trends and ‘How can we embed them? I think the ‘what’s next’ or the implications are simply, if this is where we think we can go that will hep us retain what is great about Carroll County and make us even better, then what is the infrastructure we need to put in place to guide that?”
“We just need to keep getting better,” she added, “not take what we have and tear it apart.”