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Help measure residential internet speeds in your community

This post is adapted from the DPI Broadband Speed Test Tookit prepared by IFLS Library System.

DPI is committed to improving digital equity in the state of Wisconsin. This year, they’re collecting data about internet speeds across the state. They need your help!

What they’re doing

DPI is collaborating with Measurement Lab (M-Lab) to collect data on internet connection speeds across Wisconsin. DPI will use M-Lab’s internet speed test data to create detailed reports and to provide maps of internet speeds across the state.

Why they’re doing it

The data will give the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Access (and other broadband task groups) the information they need to target improvements where internet speeds and performance are poor. 

Your input is critical

In order to get an accurate picture of the state, we need a lot of accurate data. That’s where you come in. The more data M-Lab can collect, the better we can model internet connection speeds across the state.

How you can help

  • Include a link to the M-Lab Speed Test on your library websites, Facebook pages, and any other communication platforms your library uses. The URL to link to the speed test is https://speed.measurementlab.net/#/.

  • Encourage community members to test their internet connection speeds at home, several times if possible! Include this in e-mails and newsletters, tuck into pick-up bags, encourage your trustees and volunteers to participate and share.

  • Share the URLs of pages where you have posted the link, so DPI can get an idea of how the speed test is being promoted around the state. (They’re looking for your social media posts as well as your website.)

Suggested language

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Toolkit

Kudos to IFLS Library System for sharing a toolkit with graphics to use for websites, social media posts, Facebook headers, newsletters, and bag-stuffers.

Cameras for virtual programing

Canon M50 III think virtual programs are going to be part of everyday life in libraries going forward, at least in some small part. So, I thought I would share with you some research I’ve been doing on tech gear you might want to use for your programs. I was going to write one complete post about all the gear I’ve come across over the last several months, but that would make for a long and boring post. Instead, I thought I would start with a short and boring post about cameras.

You’ve probably already been doing some form of virtual programming with a webcam or your phone which has probably worked alright for you so far. But, if you want to make your programs look better, you could upgrade to a digital camera designed with vlogging in mind.

When purchasing a camera to record programs or for live streams, I have 5 criteria to consider:

  • Articulating screen; so you can flip it around and see if you are in the frame
  • External mic jack; so you can connect a shotgun or lavaliere mic to the camera
  • Full HD recording; If the camera says HD 720 P, it’s not full HD
  • Good auto-focusing and tracking; this means the camera can quickly and quietly focus on a subject while moving around
  • HDMI output; for live streaming

If you find a camera that meets the first 4 criteria, you are well on your way to making your virtual programming better quality and easier on yourself.

Two cameras that came out in 2020 that I’m excited about are the Sony ZV-1 which was released in April and the Canon M50 mark II released in October. Both cameras meet all 5 criteria listed above and both go beyond by also offering 4K video. The biggest difference between these two cameras is the Sony ZV-1 is a Point and Shoot, meaning it has a fixed lens. The Canon camera is mirrorless which accommodates interchangeable lenses.

I struggled to find anything negative about either of these cameras. If I had to pick one thing, it would be that they both have a short battery life when recording video. Both cameras can overcome that, though. The Sony camera comes with a USB cable you can connect to a USB power source to keep the camera powered up while recording, and you can purchase a dummy battery with a power cable for the Canon camera.

These cameras cost anywhere between $700.00 - $800.00. If you would like to spend a little less and you’re not too concerned about the quality of live streaming the original Canon M50 can still be picked up new for around $650.00. If that’s still out of your price range you might be able to find a used Canon Rebel T5i or T6i that would give you the first 4 criteria and a USB port out for even less.

My intention here isn’t to go into great detail about either camera, you can find quite a lot of information online about both cameras, I just wanted to let you know these are available.
In a future post, I’ll write about microphones, lighting equipment, and stands.

Check out these videos for more information about each camera.