Longboat Key, Florida | July 17th, 2018 – Turn to Twitter and soon to Facebook for the town administrators’ official communication about what’s happening in Longboat Key. The town’s presence on online social media channels like these platforms are one of the priorities of Town Manager Tom Harmer since he assumed the post in December last year.
Longboat’s Twitter account—@TownofLBK—was created nearly five months back. Harmer started using it soon after he began work in the town vice long-time Town Manager Dave Bullock who has retired. Reminders and announcements about this year’s 4th of July activities, in fact, have been channeled through the town’s Twitter account.
Wider Communication Platform
Preparations are now underway for the town of Longboat Key’s official Facebook page. Harmer hopes that this medium, like the town’s official website, will further improve direct communication of town administrators with the island’s residents. The town manager is hoping that the additional communication channels will reach those whom the town hasn’t with its website, code red alerts and public notices in newspapers.
It makes sense for Longboat officials to tap social media in its communication initiatives. Pew Research Center, analyzing Census Bureau statistics, found out that about 37 percent of Americans age 65 years and above, a demographic that accounts for 68.2 percent of Longboat’s population, use social media. Pew also noted that 50 percent of folks over 50 years of age use Facebook.
Furthermore, it doesn’t hurt that the town is already prepared for the next generation of Longboat residents who are more social media savvy. It is quite comforting too that the town administration is undertaking efforts to upgrade the island’s telecommunication infrastructure which is also a vital component in the exchange of local information.
More Techie Communication Infrastructure
In this regard, the town is now waiting for proposals from private and public suppliers for the installation of new cellular technology to improve wireless cell phone signals on the island. This move forms part of the undergrounding of overhead wires of utilities in Longboat Key set to start this 2018.
What the town wants is its own fiber optic network in the entire island, an infrastructure that it wants to partner with another entity. Initially targeted are the town streetlights which could adopt a next-generation technology that carries with a small-cell service system.
This small-cell technology employ multiple nodes that would link with the town’s planned fiber optic network to provide much-improved cellular coverage. This setup markedly differs from a taller cell tower that provides signal around one large area.
Currently, there are two cell towers that provide services to Longboat Key. Both are outside of town, with one on City Island near the Mote Marine Laboratory and the other in West Bradenton on Cortez Road. There have been prior proposals to erect new towers on Longboat Key, the most recent of which was in 2013. But each time town officials tried to have an installation approved, local residents would oppose the project for one reason or another, including considerations on island aesthetics. With the momentum of the island’s utilities undergrounding project though, a much improved cellular communication system would be installed in the very near future.