The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has announced the first two participants in a national program to help communities across Canada measure, evaluate, and monitor local Internet performance.

Starting today, Internet users in Stratford, Ontario, and Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley region can sign up on CIRA’s website for a customized performance test that the organization will incorporate into comprehensive sets of performance data, which municipal leaders can then use to develop policies that guarantee sufficient broadband access and speed.

“If we can help communities understand their level of connectivity and how they may be able to support more resilient Internet architectures, we can provide the baseline infrastructure on top of which a smart community will thrive,” David Chiswell, CIRA’s vice president of product development, said in a statement.

The new program follows a CIRA report released earlier this year that found Internet download speeds were consistently below the 25 Mbps industry standard across Canada – 18.64 Mbps on average, a number that fell to 14.81 Mbps in rural and northern communities.

In Sept. 15 statements, representatives from both the Annapolis Valley-based non-profit i-Valley and the city of Stratford-owned Rhyzome Networks said they looked forward to using the new information that CIRA would be collecting to improve their local networks.

Operating under the premise that, in order to compete in a rapidly changing digital economy, residents across Canada need access to fast, reliable broadband, CIRA has built its Internet performance test using technology from the Princeton- and Google-affiliated Measurement Lab, placing nodes across the country, independently of any major ISP networks.

The organization presently uses a customized heat-map interface to isolate performance by ward, neighbourhood, or riding, though it eventually plans to further refine its data by establishing test portals similar to those in Stratford and the Annapolis Valley in up to eight other Canadian communities.

For now, readers in the Annapolis Valley region can access their custom version of the test here, while readers in Stratford can access their version here.

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