In this episode of The Intelligent Community, ICF Co-Founder Robert Bell continues his conversation with Anne Schweiger, Boston's Broadband & Digital Equity Advocate. Anne works with people across Boston to figure out how they can make broadband work better for everyone. She believes Boston needs to be a place where everyone has options for affordable and fast broadband.
In this episode of The Intelligent Community, ICF Co-Founder Robert Bell speaks with Anne Schweiger, Boston's Broadband & Digital Equity Advocate. Anne works with people across Boston to figure out how they can make broadband work better for everyone. She believes Boston needs to be a place where everyone has options for affordable and fast broadband.
BRAINERD, Minn. (Oct. 31, 2017) – “The number-one threat to community and economic development in the 21st Century is the digital divide,“ said technology researcher and development expert Roberto Gallardo last week at the Border to Border Broadband Conference, co-hosted by Blandin Foundation and the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development.
“Rural communities can take a big piece of the digital-economy pie if leaders look inward and develop the assets they already have at home,” Gallardo said.
Gallardo, assistant director and community economic development specialist at the Purdue Center for Regional Development, urged more than 150 broadband leaders in the room from across rural Minnesota to double-down on local efforts to prepare for the digital economy.Read more
Definitions of Smart Mobility, like Smart Communities, are never crystal clear and agreed to, however, for the purposes of this blog, let’s use the EU Commission’s definition of a Smart City as … a city seeking to address public issues via ICT-based solutions on the basis of a multi-stakeholder, municipally based partnership. By extension, the related focus on Smart Mobility refers to ICT Supported and Integrated Transport and Logistics Systems, prioritising clean and often non-motorised options for urban areas. The result of such a smart mobility focus would benefit the community by enacting public policies supporting ICT-enabled strategies creating “sustainable, safe and interconnected transportation systems, such as trams, buses, trains, metros, cars, cycles and pedestrians in situations using one or more modes of transport. [But it would also] support relevant and real-time information, accessed by the public in order to save time and improve commuting efficiency, save costs and reduce CO2 emissions, as well as network transport managers to improve services and provide feedback to citizens.” Similarly, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are defined as “the application of advanced and emerging technologies (computers, sensors, control, communications, and electronic devices) in transportation to save lives, time, money, energy and the environment.”Read more
Last week 192 nations were in New York sorting through the world’s problems, while I was trying to sort through the traffic jams they were creating in my world: the streets of New York. When the peacemakers come to town, blessed though they may be, our traffic gets miserable. However, as the home of the United Nations, we live with the hope that we are hosting people who will make the world safer and happier – or at least happier than my taxi driver.
But for the record, 85% of my trips around the city were via public transit. Blessed be IT! Let us have more of it.Read more
The small American rural city of Ashland appeared on our Smart21 list for the first time in 2007. Located in the mountains of southern Oregon, Ashland (population 22,000) has a seasonal economy built on forestry and, as home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, on tourism.
Both are seasonal businesses, so Ashland set out in 1997 to diversify its economy by building a metropolitan fiber network. The deployment went well: from 1997 to 2006, it helped add 517 businesses to a town of just over 10,000 postal addresses. New companies sprang up in e-commerce and audio books as well as such esoteric technologies as the handling of unexploded ordinance.Read more
People who live in big metropolises, like New York City, London or Hong Kong, often say that they can always find someone within a few miles who has a special skill they need to complete some project or build a business. I’ve pointed out that the close proximity of millions of people with so many different skills is part of what has made cities successful economic engines during the industrial era.Read more
You have never seen the work of Ms. Hadam Sung and her sexy dance cover group from Korea, Bambino. She is a “nugu” to you (I’ll explain that one later). On the Internet, however, she is a record-breaking superstar whose talents are cherished throughout Asia. Thanks to broadband, they are exported worldwide. Broadband and innovation, the golden combo, have made it happen for her. Not to mention her hard work and her talent.Read more
--- Experts warn of threat to London’s future competitiveness – and call on next Mayor of London to take action ---
An independent group of telecommunications professionals with more than 500 years’ combined experience today warn that London’s broadband infrastructure is so poor it threatens the capital’s ability to compete with other global cities in the future.Read more
Broadband is the next essential utility, as vital to economic growth as clean water and good roads.
Broadband is defined in different ways in different places. All agree that is an "always on" service, but minimum expectations for speed range from 2 megabits per second up to 10, 20 or 50 times that.
Whatever the speed, the power of broadband is simple enough to express. It connects your computer, laptop or mobile device to billions of devices and users around the world, creating a digital overlay to our physical world that is revolutionizing how we work, play, live, educate and entertain ourselves, govern our citizens and relate to the world. In the "broadband economy" created by this technology...
- The world's largest taxi company, Uber, owns no vehicles.
- The world's most popular media company, Facebook, creates no content.
- The world's largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, owns no real estate.
- The world's most valuable retailer, Alibaba, has no inventory.
Why Communities Get Involved
Infrastructure is the foundation of economic competitiveness. Broadband may be one of the fastest growing technologies in history, but its availability, speed and reliability consistently lag behind user demand, particularly in low-density and low-income markets that do not offer the private sector attractive investment opportunities. That gives local government a strong incentive to involve itself in promoting access to high-quality broadband. The most successful have all begun with the same first step: establishing a clear vision and communicating why broadband access matters. If constituents believe that broadband is just about downloading music or playing online games, they will not provide political support when it is needed. But if they see broadband as a path to prosperity and greater citizen participation, it will be quite a different story.
Once communities know what they want to do and why, they take different paths to get there. The Intelligent Community Forum has identified five approaches taken by the communities we have studied.
- Development Policy. Remaining safely within the bounds of tradition, governments direct the usual tools of development policy at broadband deployment. They set broadband-friendly building codes. They conduct inventories of existing broadband networks and access points. They offer tax credits and craft rights-of-way policies to support network development.
- Networks for Government. Local and regional governments are big users of communications, and they are generally as free as any business to build private networks for their own use. To reduce costs and gain new capabilities, they construct a fiber or coaxial network linking all government offices, schools, libraries hospitals and other public facilities. By making these investments in networks and services, governments become a vital anchor tenant for broadband and stimulate demand for broadband services.
- Public-Private Partnerships. In other cases, government sets its sights on building a public-access network from the start but chooses not to build, own or operate it. Public-private partnerships take many forms, limited only by the imagination and legal framework in which the municipality operates. Some communities issue municipal bonds to fund construction of a network, which they lease to private carriers, with the lease payments covering the debt service. Others create nonprofit organizations to develop networks in collaboration with private carriers or provide seed investment to jumpstart construction of networks that the private sector is unable to cost-justify on its own.
- Dark Fiber and Open Access Networks. Yet another variation on deployment strategy leverages the municipality's control of its roads and rights of way to encourage the private sector to invest. In these communities, government stops issuing permits to carriers to lay cable or fiber and instead builds its own system of conduits and lays "dark fiber" throughout the network. It then leases access to the fiber to carriers. By digging up the streets once and then closing them to further construction, local governments protect their citizens from the disruption of repeated road work. The municipalities price the leases to cover their construction and maintenance costs as well as providing a positive return on investment. In some cases, the municipalities go a step further by creating an "open network" management platform that permits carriers to provision services almost instantly, which encourages competition and innovation.
- Direct Competition. The most aggressive posture a community can take is to invest public funds in setting up a broadband carrier, building a network and delivering service to outside customers. Local government typically takes this path after repeated attempts to interest incumbent carriers in upgrading networks have failed because the carriers could not make a business case for investment. Since municipalities need to earn a return sufficient only to pay capital and operating costs, they can frequently make such a case themselves – particularly if they already own and operate water, gas or electric utilities, as many small rural communities do.
Mention municipal broadband, and most people think you are talking about direct competition with the private sector. But direct competition is just one of many strategies and by no means the most common. Intelligent Communities everywhere want the same thing: to get their citizens the broadband utility they need at a price they can afford.