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Title: Rural Broadband and Advanced Manufacturing: Research Implications for Information Studies
Advanced manufacturing (AM) is a vital driver of the U.S. economy. AM is also crucial in building U.S. competitiveness by strengthening the scientific and engineering enterprise and providing transformative science and technology solutions. AM anchors rural economies across the country and is especially important to rural America, where it accounts for a larger share of employment and earnings than in urban areas. Broadband Internet connectivity is essential affordance of the “smart” AM production technologies key to U.S. leadership because they enable manufacturers to precisely customize products and supply for increasingly segmented markets. However, our review of policy and research suggests that little is known about the extent to which the U.S. broadband environment can support and enable AM, especially in the prime rural locations. In this paper, we will explore rural communities’ AM readiness. Specifically, we synthesize research and policy documents relating to the centrality of broadband Internet to AM; the state of broadband in rural communities; and the potential for AM transform rural communities. We conclude with promising directions for information science researchers to further investigate the relationship between broadband and the potential for AM to benefit rural communities’ economic potential.  more » « less
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National Science Foundation
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