Many people have contributed to SCIway Blueprint,
but three groups stand out. The first includes more than
1,000 South Carolina Internet users who responded to the SCIway
Needs Survey described in Chapter 4. It also includes the 25+
South Carolina Internet access providers and other organizations
who distributed this survey to their customers and employees.
Without the help and cooperation of these individuals and organizations,
we would not have been able to learn nearly as much about the
types of public information and services South Carolinians would
like to be able to access on-line.
The second group is much smaller. It includes Ted
Lightle, the Director of South Carolina state government's Office
of Information Resources, and four members of this staff: Tom
Fletcher, Lynn Fralick, Mackey Goodwin, and Jerry Poston. All
of these individuals have provided us important information and
documents throughout the past two years. All have patiently listened
and responded to innumerable questions and to critiques of their
actions and policies-and related policies over which they have
little control. And all have exhibited an openness, thoughtfulness,
and helpfulness that have been genuinely impressive. Without
their help Chapter 5 of this plan could not have been written.
The third group consists of those South Carolina
Internet users who have participated in the SCIway electronic
mail discussion list during the past two years. This list is
an on-line forum that enables South Carolinians to talk with each
other about network-related needs, problems, and resources; and
discussion has often focused on issues directly related to the
central concerns of this plan. The questions, suggestions, and
criticisms of SCIway list participants have influenced SCIway
Blueprint far more than most of them imagine, and we gratefully
acknowledge their important contribution.
How will this communication revolution affect South
Carolinians? Will it help us increase economic development and
improve the quality of our lives or will it divert investments,
better paying jobs, and our children and grandchildren elsewhere?
To a great degree, the answer depends on what South Carolina
does in the next few years to develop its network resources and
involve its citizens in the Internet revolution.
1.1 What is SCIway?
The title of this document is SCIway Blueprint.
SCIway, pronounced "sky·way," is an acronym for
South Carolina Information
Highway. In essence SCIway is simply South Carolina's
slice of the Internet. It is everything in South Carolina
that is connected to the Internet . . . and everyone in South
Carolina who uses the Internet.
SCIway includes four basic components-highways, on-ramps,
destinations, and travelers:
Highways: high-speed, wide area computer
networks that connect South Carolina's cities, towns, and countrysides
to each other and to regional and national Internet hubs-and that
are open to public traffic (that is, individuals, businesses,
schools, colleges, government agencies, etc.). Most of these
networks are owned and/or operated by private communications companies
such as AT&T, MCI, Sprint, SCNet, iSCAN, SCANA, BellSouth,
and Info Avenue. But some network segments and connection services
are leased by state government.
On-ramps: the businesses, schools, colleges,
libraries, government agencies, and community organizations that
provide South Carolinians access to in-state computer networks
and the Internet. The companies that enable individuals and organizations
to connect to SCIway and the Internet are called Internet access
providers, or more broadly, Internet service providers.
Sixty such companies currently serve locations within South Carolina.
Some of these companies provide Internet access nationally, some
regionally, some only in South Carolina, and some in just a small
area of the state.
Individuals and smaller organizations usually access SCIway and the Internet through ordinary telephone lines and relatively slow communication devices called modems. Larger organizations often lease or install "wider" communication lines that connect their in-house computer networks directly to Internet access providers and give their employees, students, users, and members faster network access.
Destinations: the network "places"
people can go within South Carolina- including those developed
by private citizens, businesses, non-profit organizations, and
state and local governments. This increasingly means World-Wide
Web sites, but it also includes Gophers, on-line library catalogs,
and e-mail discussion groups. All of these network resources
enable people to quickly obtain information and
services or communicate with others
without physically traveling to a business, school, college, library,
government agency, or meeting place.
Many SCIway resources are being developed by private individuals and businesses. But some of the most useful can only be developed by government agencies and non-profit organizations. Directories of elected officials, property tax records, school holiday calendars, and census data are examples of public information. Public services include actions such as renewing vehicle registrations, applying for building permits, and making state park cabin reservations. And communicating includes sending e-mail messages to your state senator or participating in an on-line discussion of South Carolina's new concealed weapons law.
Travelers: those South Carolinians who
use SCIway and the Internet. This includes growing numbers of
business owners and employees, government workers, K-12 and college
students and teachers, and tens of thousands of other state citizens
who find the Internet interesting or useful.
Instead, SCIway is a virtual or effective
network-it doesn't actually exist, but for all practical purposes
it does! One way or another, every South Carolinian who has access
to the Internet can communicate with every other South Carolinian
who has access to the Internet-and share and use the same South
Carolina on-line information resources and services. This is
the key to SCIway's usefulness and promise.
1.2 SCIway versus SCINET
SCINET, pronounced "sky·net," is an
acronym for South Carolina Information
Network. In recent months this term has been used
by South Carolina state government to describe a set of network
services that the State Budget and Control Board's Office of Information
Resources (OIR) provides for state agencies, local governments,
and public schools and school districts. SCINET encompasses seven
different types of networks. These networks are described in
Chapter 5 of this plan.
There are some important differences between SCIway
and SCINET. First, SCIway is much larger and more inclusive than
SCINET. While SCIway includes everything in South Carolina that
is connected to the Internet (including SCINET) and everyone in
South Carolina who uses the Internet, SCINET includes only those
state and local government agencies and public schools that are
connected to each other and to Internet gateways through networks
provided by the Office of Information Resources.
Second, SCIway is a virtual, conceptual network and
an on-line cyber community, while SCINET is a set of tangible,
physical intrastate networks.
Finally, like the Internet, SCIway is the semi-accidental
result of interconnections between various networks developed
by private Internet service providers. It is governed by no one.
SCINET, on the other hand, is a set of networks planned and procured
by the Office of Information Resources and guided by a SCINET
User Council, which consists of representatives from those state
agencies that use one or more SCINET networks.
1.3 Purpose and focus of this plan
Thanks to Internet access providers, Web developers
and hosting services, high demand, the profit motive, and a competitive
business environment, the private portion of South Carolina's
Information Highway is expanding rapidly. For the most part,
its future development will be determined by technological change,
government regulations, and the marketplace.
But the public, non-profit parts of SCIway-especially
the state and local government information and service "destinations"
that could save us all time and money-are not developing as quickly.
One reason for this is that there are few organizational or personal
incentives for government agencies and employees to develop network
information resources and services. (In fact there are some disincentives-extra
work in the short run, the possible loss of jobs in the long run,
and the loss of influence that sometimes results when public information
is made readily and widely available.) Another reason is that
most state and local government leaders do not understand how
providing public information and services on-line can save citizens
and businesses time and money and reduce government costs,
and so they have not allocated resources to support this work.
The primary purpose of this plan is to provide a
useful blueprint-a practical plan of action-for extending and
improving the public portion of SCIway and for increasing
the number of South Carolinians who can access SCIway and the
Internet and use these resources effectively. In developing this
blueprint, we will focus on five questions:
In May of 1994 South Carolina's State Budget and
Control Board submitted a Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure
Assistance Program (TIIAP) planning grant proposal to the U.S.
Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA). This proposal was developed jointly by
the Board's Office of Research and Statistics, its Office of Information
Resources, the Department of Education, the South Carolina Educational
Television Network (SCETV), and the Appalachian Council of Governments.
The Office of Research and Statistics was identified as the primary
contractor, and the Appalachian Council of Governments was identified
as the primary subcontractor.
The Office of Research and Statistics has many responsibilities,
but one of the most important is to help state government agencies
develop information technology plans.
The Appalachian Council of Governments is a voluntary
association of local governments in six upstate South Carolina
counties-Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, and
Spartanburg. It is nationally recognized as a leader in the development
of geographical information systems and on-line public information
resources, and it has played a major role in the development of
Appnet, an upstate network consortium that includes six county
libraries and the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind.
Five other organizations also co-sponsored the NTIA
planning grant application: the State Department of Education,
South Carolina Educational Television (SCETV), Appnet, Coastnet
(a network services and information resources co-op that connects
Charleston area colleges and libraries), and MidNet (a community
information service that also provides low-cost e-mail and text
Internet access to Columbia area residents).
The primary goal of the NTIA planning grant
proposal was to develop a blueprint for extending and improving
the public portion of South Carolina's Information Highway so
that all state citizens will have ready access to on-line government
information and services.
A secondary goal was to learn how to efficiently
develop useful, easy-to-use on-line state and local information
resources and services by completing two demonstration projects:
a World-Wide Web site for South Carolina state government and
a separate Web site for upstate local governments. The state
government site was to be developed by the Budget and Control
Board's Office of Information Resources, which is responsible
for the operation of state government computing, data network,
telephone, and printing services. The local government site was
to be developed by the Appalachian Council of Governments. (Both
of these Web sites have now been on-line for more than a year.
(see http://www.state.sc.us and http://www.acog.greenville.sc.us))
In October of 1994 NTIA awarded the Budget and Control
Board $430,000 to develop the proposed plan and complete the Web
site demonstration projects. South Carolina's proposal was one
of only 92 Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance
Program proposals funded by NTIA in 1994. More than 1,000 were
One of the requirements of the NTIA grant award was
that the Budget and Control Board provide and/or obtain matching
funds equal to the amount of the award. Matching funding for
this project was provided by the Budget and Control Board, the
Appalachian Council of Governments, BellSouth, and the Robert
Wood Johnson Foundation. All of these "funds" were
In the two years since South Carolina was awarded
its NTIA planning grant, Budget and Control Board staff and Appalachian
Council of Governments staff have worked with each other and with
the Director of the Office of Information Resources, Mr. Ted Lightle,
to develop SCIway Blueprint. During this period we have:
Our primary information sources have been plans and
reports we have collected from other states; articles we have
read in information technology publications; information and examples
we have found on the World-Wide Web; presentations and discussions
we have heard at regional and national conferences; the citizen
surveys we've conducted; and conversations we have had with state
and local government employees, communications company representatives,
and Internet service providers. However, our most important source
of information and ideas has been the SCIway e-mail discussion
list hosted by The Citadel-an on-line forum that enables South
Carolinians to talk with each other about their information needs
and state information resources. Even though we have not participated
in these discussions as much as many list members would have liked,
we have always listened closely. Many of the recommendations
presented in this plan have been shaped by SCIway list comments
and debates. (For more information about the SCIway list, see
Since we started working on SCIway Blueprint,
two developments have occurred that have significantly affected
its conclusions. The first was the dramatic increase in the number
of Internet access providers serving South Carolina. In the fall
of 1994 fewer than five Internet access providers were serving
locations within the state, and these were concentrated in larger
cities. Today at least 60 different companies provide Internet
access within South Carolina (many at multiple locations); residents
of most of the state's 46 counties can access SCIway and the Internet
by modem without paying long-distance charges; and the monthly
cost of Internet access has dropped markedly in areas where there
is competition among Internet access providers. While there are
still some rural areas of the state that do not have local call
access-and even some urban areas where access costs are high-the
availability and affordability of citizen access to SCIway and
the Internet are much smaller concerns today than they were two
years ago. This is a case in which private enterprise has partially
solved a public problem and made money at the same time.
The second development was the General Assembly's
appropriation of $10 million for networking public primary and
secondary schools last spring. Thanks to this legislation, which
was proposed by Governor David Beasley, the number of K-12 schools
that have access to SCIway and the Internet will increase rapidly
in 1997. In addition the modest network infrastructure that is
being created to support this initiative (see Chapter 5) will
provide other state and local government agencies lower cost access.
As a result, connecting public agencies to SCIway and the Internet
is also less of a concern today than it was two years ago.
NTIA's Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program encourages the candid sharing of "lessons learned" by grant recipients. We learned a lot as we developed SCIway Blueprint, but two lessons stand out.
The first is that developing long-term
plans for providing network access for state and local government
agencies is-at least for now-not worthwhile.
The reason for this is that providing network access is one of
the fastest changing, most competitive businesses in the world.
Communication technologies are changing, government regulations
are changing, and the structure of the communications industry
is changing-and the consequences of all these interrelated changes
are not at all clear. In this uncertain, unpredictable environment,
the best strategy for governments is to eschew major capital investments
and take advantage of increasing competition by shopping wisely,
avoiding long-term commitments (contractual agreements longer
than one or two years), and continually re-evaluating the marketplace.
Under no circumstances should governments build their own wide
area networks, as the state of Iowa has done.
The second major lesson we have learned is
that by far the most difficult part of constructing the public
portion of SCIway is not networking government agencies, but developing
and maintaining useful, user friendly on-line information resources
and services (primarily Web sites) that can save South Carolinians,
state businesses, and government agencies time and money.
Building these network resources requires significant investments
of time and money plus organizational and writing skills, creativity,
technical knowledge, leadership, and persistence. Some of this
work can be contracted to private organizations, but some can
be done only by government agencies and employees. South Carolina
has barely started this work.
1.5 Objectives of the NTIA planning grant
The principal objectives of South Carolina's NTIA
planning grant-and this plan-are listed below. They are grouped
into five categories: on-line public information and services;
networking state and local government agencies; providing citizens
network access; helping citizens use networks effectively; and
planning, coordinating, and promoting the development of the public
portion of SCIway.
1.6 Organization of this plan
The organization of SCIway Blueprint matches
the five basic questions that are the focus of this plan and the
five groups of NTIA planning grant objectives outlined above.
Chapters 4-8 are the heart of the plan. Chapter 4 focuses on
on-line public information and services, while Chapter 5 deals
with network access for state and local government agencies, including
K-12 public schools and colleges and universities. Chapter 6
and 7 examine ways in which state and local governments can help
South Carolinians access on-line public information and services
and learn how to use SCIway and the Internet effectively. Finally,
Chapter 8 addresses some issues related to planning, coordinating,
and promoting the future development of SCIway.
Chapter 2 is a quick-reference glossary that defines
some important technical terms and acronyms used in this plan.
Chapter 3 is an executive summary of the major findings and recommendations
presented in Chapters 4-8.
1.7 Why developing the public portion of SCIway
Before we consider the five questions this plan addresses,
we need to answer some even more fundamental questions: Why does
South Carolina need to develop the public portion of SCIway?
Why do we need to build Web sites that deliver public information
and services? Why do we need to connect schools and colleges
and government agencies to each other and to the Internet? Why
should we provide network access to state citizens who don't have
access at home, work, or school-or help them learn how to use
SCIway and the Internet effectively? In short, how will the lives
of South Carolinians be better if we spend the time and money
it will take to do all this?
The answers to these questions are simple and straightforward.
We need to develop the public portion of SCIway because doing
help South Carolina develop a work force
that can compete in the Information Age
make it easier for potential visitors, customers,
and employers to learn about South Carolina
provide state businesses immediate, economical
access to public information and services they need to compete
in a global economy
provide businesses and individuals throughout
the state equal access to public information
make life more convenient for South Carolinians
and save them time and money, and
reduce government costs.
Developing an Information Age work force.
As the Information Age progresses and the nature of many jobs
changes, South Carolina must develop a work force that knows how
to use computers, networks, on-line information resources, and
related information technology tools. Networking our schools
and colleges, developing on-line educational programs and training
systems, and teaching children and adults how to find and use
SCIway and Internet resources will not guarantee that South Carolina
will be able to attract high-tech companies and the high-paying
jobs they bring with them. But not taking these steps
will guarantee our failure.
Developing a labor pool that is skilled in the use
of computers and networks is an immediate concern, not just a
problem we need to solve someday. For example, in October of
1995 the Charleston area lost an $18 million Gateway 2000 computer
assembly plant to Hampton, Virginia. This plant would have created
1,000 light-manufacturing jobs and generated an $18.4 million
annual payroll. One of the main reasons Gateway chose Hampton
was that they "concluded that Virginia was better-positioned
than South Carolina to train and provide workers for the high-tech
jobs." (Post and Courier, October 13, 1995, 5-B).
While addressing the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce
a month later, Governor Beasley pinpointed the state's problem
Helping South Carolina businesses compete.
Because many South Carolina businesses now compete in a global
economy, they must have immediate, economical access to various
types of information in order to be competitive. Much of the
information businesses need is collected or produced by state
and local governments. Having this information on-line would
help South Carolina companies respond quickly to business opportunities-and
improve their productivity in the process.
Providing equal electronic access.
Much of the information generated by South Carolina state and
local governments is currently available only in Columbia or at
county seats, and the cost of accessing these resources is higher
the farther one lives from these locations. If government information
resources were available on-line through SCIway, individuals and
businesses throughout the state would have equal and lower-cost
access to them.
Saving South Carolinians time and money.
Providing public information and services on-line would make
daily life more convenient for South Carolinians and save them
time and money. Individuals and businesses would be able to access
information, obtain services, and fulfill requirements 24 hours
a day, seven days a week-without making long-distance telephone
calls or physically traveling to government offices. And they
would not have to wait in traffic, find and pay for a parking
place, or stand in line.
Reducing government costs.
Providing public information and services through SCIway would
also cut government costs and save taxpayers money by reducing
the number of employees needed to answer telephone and walk-in
questions, mail publications and forms, and enter data from returned
forms into computers. In addition it would reduce the need for
government office space and furnishings; cut paper, printing,
packaging, and postage expenses; and decrease the cost of storing
outgoing publications and forms and filing and storing incoming
In sum, there is a strong case for funding and building the public portion of SCIway as soon as possible.