In 2004, fewer than 6% of Brazilians, or 11 million people, were users of the Internet. Of these, about 6% had access to broadband connections, and 90% of them lived in Brazil’s biggest cities. Yet, in February of that year, the little city of Pirai, located about 70 kilometers (44 miles) outside Rio de Janeiro and with a population of 23,000, switched on a wireless broadband network providing 14 Mbps of connectivity to every public facility, from the town hall to public schools and street kiosks. It was an impressive feat of technology implementation. Yet it was not technology that earned Pirai a place among the Top Seven, but the broad objectives and collaborative process that made the technology possible. In 1996, Pirai elected a new mayor, Luiz Fernando de Souza, who felt strongly that communications and information technology should be part of the city’s future. The Brasilia University was invited in 1997 to develop an IT master plan for Pirai and, beginning in 2001, the city won a series of grants and loans to plan a “Pirai Digital City” project. Its primary focus was on developing an educational network linking schools, laboratories and libraries, but with the input of donors, it expanded to include efforts to bridge the digital divide with broader coverage. Mayor Souza’s government formed an advisory board made up of representatives from government, residential associations, academic and nonprofit organizations, business and labor unions to oversee the continued evolution of the plan.
For several years, funding continued to be both a challenge and opportunity. It was a challenge because the city found it impossible to obtain either grants or loans from the central government to fund deployment of the network. But it was an opportunity because lack of direct funding forced Pirai to innovate. The city formed alliances with local businesses that could provide expertise, and with a competitive telecommunications company that could help connect nodes in the wireless network. The Pirai branch of CEDERJ, a consortium of public universities offering online courses, agreed to create an Educational Technology Center on its premises to oversee implementation. These moves, plus a re-thinking of the network requirements, allowed Pirai to drive down the cost by a factor of eight, and made it possible to finance the project within the city’s budget, with only modest assistance from the national government.
The network was turned on in February 2004. Whereupon Mayor Souza’s government turned its attention to the issue of sustainability – specifically, to developing Digital Age skills among citizens and organizations in Pirai, in order to sustain the network itself and use it as a means to transform life and work. Though the network has been operating for less than a year, it seems clear that the collaborative approach that led to its creation will continue to support the growth of an intelligent community in Pirai.
In the middle of the 20th Century, Winston-Salem had a global reputation for producing a product whose use is now being banned worldwide. The product is tobacco, and its trajectory is a fair measure of the path of Winston-Salem's industrial economy, which thrived on a mix traditional to the American South of tobacco, textiles and manufacturing. All three play a role in the economy today, but none are positioned to deliver sustainable growth.
In the mid-1990s, Wake Forest University began work on a plan to connect its medical school and undergraduate campuses with a high-speed network, which ultimately resulted in a 26-mile fiber-optic ring around Winston-Salem. The university's vice president of finance and administration, Dr. John Anderson, saw the potential to use this new asset for community development. He coordinated a series of leadership meetings that, with the active support of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, created an informal working group including the top government, institutional and educational users of communications.
In 1997, they dubbed themselves WinstonNet and, a year later, staged a demonstration at a local school - attended by North Carolina's members of Congress - of video collaboration and multimedia teaching tools. In 1999, WinstonNet won a US Department of Education grant in partnership with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools to connect the school system to the fiber ring and the fiber ring to the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), a nonprofit, statewide network of educational institutions. Once construction was completed, the school system gained access to the Internet at the blazing speed of 155 Mbps. In the same year, WinstonNet incorporated as a nonprofit organization, with members including the city, the county, the school system, Wake Forest and its subsidiaries, the Chamber of Commerce and the local community college. Each member paid an annual service fee for use of the network, which was now called WinstonNet. Wake Forest began to earn a return on its investment and the members gained some of the best broadband access in the world at a very competitive cost.
Citizens benefited, too. Institutional and public investment spurred demand for broadband and the private-sector investment needed to deliver it. Today, 88% of households in Winston-Salem subscribe to broadband via DSL, cable, fiber, wireless and satellite, as well as 100% of government offices and nearly every business. Carriers including AT&T, Sprint, Time Warner Telecom, ITC Deltacom and DukeNet provide speeds ranging from 256 Kbps for US$20 per month up to 8 Mbps for $55.
But the nonprofit WinstonNet was about much more than connectivity. Its real purpose was to enable Winston-Salem's transition from a manufacturing to knowledge-based economy. The WinstonNet Board believed that the community's future lay in services, logistics and biotechnology, which would place heavy demands on education and training to overcome not only the community's industrial legacy but fast growth in the immigrant population. North Carolina experienced a 37% increase in its immigrant population from 2000 to 2006, by which time Spanish speakers made up 7% of the total.
WinstonNet developed a three-pronged strategy to attack the problem. In 2003, the organization dedicated its first Community Computer Lab at a recreation center. Over the next year, it opened a total of 30 sites offering free computer access to children and adults, with Wake Forest University and Forsyth Technical Community College leading the project and Microsoft and Cisco Foundation providing funding. Today, there are 44 labs operating in community centers, churches, schools and libraries, managing more than 3,500 email accounts and logging over 75,000 user sessions per year.
In 2005, WinstonNet partnered with One Economy, a national nonprofit, using a grant from Cisco, to build a community Web portal. The Beehive Web portal was launched in 2006. With content in English and Spanish at a 5th grade reading level, the portal provides information on money, health, jobs, family, immigration, taxes, government services and computer training and support. The library system has taken responsibility for maintaining the portal, which according to One Economy, is now number three in the nation for the most "hits" to a community Web portal.
In 2006, WinstonNet put the last piece in place through a partnership with Forsyth County Libraries that created a sustainable computer training program. A three-year grant from state government permitted WinstonNet to hire a full-time coordinator, who has created a volunteer group of 40+ trainers, created a standard curriculum of courses and developed a certification program. Classes are taught in both English and Spanish. In its first year, the program completed 189 classes with total attendance of just under 1,000 people. WinstonNet is now developing, in partnership with a local nonprofit, a set of classes for visually impaired and physically challenged computer users as well.
While working to raise the skills level of the entire community, WinstonNet has also contributed to technology and economic development. In 2002, WinstonNet became North Carolina's first Regional High Speed Networking Hub (GigaPoP), boosting Internet connection speeds to 622 Mbps. In 2007, WinstonNet switched on a proof-of-concept WiFi network covering 1 square mile (2.5 km2) as a first step in creating what the organization calls "ubiquitous access to knowledge and information for everyone." Wireless Winston is a new public-private partnership backed by anchor tenancy agreements with the top employers in the community. Its goals are to reduce telecom costs, enhance education, improve student-teacher-parent communication and improve public health and safety.
In 2004, Targacept, a biopharmaceutical company spun out from R.J. Reynolds, joined WinstonNet in a cooperative program to demonstrate state-of-the-art "grid computing" in local schools. WinstonNet is now exploring development of a supercomputing center to be housed at the Piedmont Triad Community Research Park, where Wake Forest is constructing a high-performance data center. This research park, anchored in Winston-Salem's historic downtown business district, will provide 5.7 million square feet (529,547 m2) of "green" commercial space for life science research on land donated to the city by R.J. Reynolds. It is being developed by another public-private partnership called Idealliance and is currently home to five buildings including the Biotechnology Research Facility of Wake Forest University Health Sciences.
Other public and public-private organizations are adding momentum to the development process. The Piedmont Triad Entrepreneurial Network was formed in 2004 to offer programs and resources to fast-growing small businesses in the areas of education, mentoring, networking and capital formation. Wake Forest is developing the Angell Center for Entrepreneurship as an incubator housing 3-5 start-ups at a time for up to 12 months. Among its tenants will be winners of the Triad Entrepreneurial Initiative's annual business plan competition.
In addition to actively supporting these efforts, the city of Winston-Salem has deployed ICT to improve its services. In 2007, it opened a Citizen Contact Center providing one telephone number for access to all city services. Greater convenience for citizens resulted in a significant reduction in total call volume as more service requests were satisfied on the first call. The MyCityofWS service allows citizens to establish a profile on the City's Web site that defines their interests and location, so they can be notified by email of relevant new information. The fire department uses a wireless dispatch system with data routing and imaging, which has helped the department exceed standards for response time and effectiveness.
How does Winston-Salem measure the results of its many investments and partnerships? There have certainly been economic successes. Winston-Salem and Forsyth County now count 37,000 biotech employees as residents, and biotech companies contribute an estimated $10 billion in annual revenue to the area. Dell Computer opened a manufacturing facility in Forsyth County in 2005 that will create another 1,500 jobs and contribute at least $100 million in new investment. But Winston-Salem also measures progress in human terms. WinstonNet is now in discussions with the school district and community leaders on development of a program to place computers in the homes of low-income students. The program proposal covers funding, curriculum integration, teacher training, technical staffing, hardware and broadband connections. If WinstonNet is successful in attracting funding, as it expects, the program will start in 2008/09 with 550 students in middle schools with high percentages of low-income students. Success, then, is measured not only in today's jobs. It is also measured by the community's ability to build a more prosperous and inclusive Broadband Economy for tomorrow's citizens.
Population: 223,000 (Winston-Salem), 320,919 (Forsyth County)
Labor Force: 183,742 (Forsyth County)
Westchester County is a 500-square-mile (1295 km2) region, with a population of just under one million, located at a geographic and demographic crossroads. It lies between New York City on its southern border and the state's relatively rural "upstate" region to the north. Known for some of America's wealthiest commuter towns, Westchester is also home to a fast-growing immigrant and low-income population, today making up about 35% of the total. Its workforce of nearly half a million people generates an impressive 10% of all US patents.
Crossroads, of course, are traditionally hubs of commerce. Under the leadership of County Executive Andrew Spano, Westchester has taken major strides to keep its geographic and demographic advantages relevant in the Broadband Economy.
Broadband and Quality of Life
The county has long considered quality of life to be its strongest advantage in attracting middle and upper-income residents and competitive employers. Its Intelligent Community strategy has focused on maintaining this intangible but essential element.
Mr. Spano came to office in 1998 with the belief that the county's future would depend heavily on telecommunications. Aside from a cluster of corporate headquarters nicknamed "The Platinum Mile," the county had fallen behind most of the areas with which it competed for people and jobs. Discussions with major telecom carriers made it clear that they were far more interested in winning competitive battles in New York City than investing in Westchester. The county's response was to conceive the Westchester Telecom Network, a multi-gigabit fiber backbone that now extends over 800 miles (1287 km) into every corner of the county. Its development was made possible by collaboration. The county government worked with 43 local governments, an independent library system, major hospitals and dozens of school and water districts to pool communication budgets worth $50 million over five years. This long and intensive effort provided all the incentive needed for a cable TV company, Cablevision Lightpath, to build the network. Losing customers worth $50 million per year also sparked the interest of the region's carriers, which subsequently built and lit three OC192 (9900 Mbps) fiber rings within the county to create one of the best local telecom infrastructures in the United States. Today, residential and business customers can select from broadband options ranging from 768 kbps for $15 up to 50 mbps for $90 per month. Over 3,500 companies have connected directly to the Westchester Telecom Network, as well as more than half of all municipal agencies in the county, and all of the county's schools, libraries and hospitals.
The network has permitted Westchester to create, attract and retain innovative organizations. E-government programs built on the network's foundation include FirstFind.info, a virtual library that provides general and local information to low-level readers and adults with limited English skills. The Shared Criminal Justice Data Warehouse, winner of a 2006 county achievement award, is used by county, local, state and New York City police departments. It offers a powerful search system that produces meaningful results from even vague and incomplete data, and provides access to aerial photography and GIS mapping. A revamped county Web site has become a primary communications tools and receives 22,000 visitors per day, compared with 12,000 in 2004. The network also played a direct role in attracting major employers to the county, including Nokia, New York Life Insurance and Morgan Stanley. But small, innovative organizations have benefited as well, including animation company Blue Sky Studios (animator of the movie Ice Age) and Pace University Online Learning for Trade Unions, which creates distance learning programs in telecommunications.
Promoting Business Growth
Like all Intelligent Communities, Westchester has clearly seen that broadband is not enough to secure a prosperous future. To create an inclusive and vital local economy, it has launched successful programs to promote business growth, improve the skills of the workforce and fight digital exclusion.
The county's Industrial Development Agency and state agencies offer tax abatement and Revolving Loan Fund and Technology Investment Fund programs targeting small business. Private investors including Morgan Stanley, MMV Financial and First Round Capital are also active in the county. The Westchester Information Technology Cluster is a virtual corporation supported by county government and business groups that works to match the needs of potential buyers to its database of more than 1,500 technology specialists at over 180 small-to-midsized technology companies. The Westchester Not-For-Profit Technology Council provides a similar service to nonprofits in need of technology assistance by matching them with tech-savvy volunteers. Reaching beyond the US border, Westchester launched in 2007 a Web portal called US Channels to promote trade between county companies and the world, and has published a Chinese-language electronic magazine in DVD format.
Spreading the Wealth
Westchester has partnered with its neighbor, Fairfield County in Connecticut, to win a $5 million, 3-year US Government grant for a "Talent for Growth" program. It aims to create a talent-driven system linking education, workforce and economic development partners with regional businesses, in order to develop a pipeline of skilled workers and improve the mobility of workers and communications systems. Another partnership, with New York State counties, targets "green workers." The Green Talent Pipeline unites the county governments with private and public employers to focus on "green" workforce development, economic development and education, to leverage the region's initial successes in developing clean technologies.
To help bridge the digital divide, the county runs a Westchester Scholars Program, which awards computers, software, connectivity and training to 50 students from low-income families per year. A Westchester Access program distributes older computers from county and local government to nonprofits, many of which use them as incentives to bring low-income adults into computer and Web training programs. The county also funds a large network of computers and connectivity at 41 library locations throughout Westchester.
Since the Westchester Telecom Network began service in 2001, this crossroads community has placed significant bets on its future. The expanding web of investments in Web-based applications, business growth, talent development and inclusion seem certain to power its growth for decades to come.
Labor Force: 499,472
Smart21 2008 | 2009
Spokane, the largest city on the east side of Washington State, with a population of 196,000, has long been removed both geographically and economically from the fast-growing Seattle area that includes the City of Redmond, home of software giant Microsoft. The prosperity of the City of Spokane in the 19th and early 20th centuries was based on resource extraction, and its history includes the silver boom, the timber boom and a trading boom that followed the coming of the railroads. Their legacy was a downtown area filled with graceful historic buildings set on wide streets above the magnificent falls of the Spokane River. But the power of Spokane’s traditional industries to create jobs and prosperity had run its course and, by the 1980s, the city was struggling for economic vitality.
Private and Public Investment
The software boom on the west side of the State; however, was dramatizing the existence of new opportunities and a mix of private-sector and far-sighted public-sector investment began to lay the foundations for a new economy. The private sector saw promise in the Spokane area and began installing broadband connectivity, from fiber to XDSL and cable modem service. Public-sector investment included Spokane’s Educational Metropolitan Area Network, a gigabit Ethernet connection to all classrooms in more than 53 schools and colleges, an Inland Northwest Community Access Network that offers Internet access, training and social service resources to the economically disadvantaged; and a state-funded rural fiber network deployed by Inland Northwest Health Services connecting Spokane’s health care community with the region.
In 1996, a professor at Eastern Washington University, Dr. Steve Simmons, coined the term “Terabyte Triangle” which described Spokane’s 30-block triangular region around the downtown core, which offers one of the densest concentrations of high-speed connectivity in the U.S. Investments valued at more than $1 billion have transformed Spokane, and generated a “Downtown Renaissance” which has launched over 450 new and proposed public and private construction projects to bring new vitality and vigor to downtown Spokane. Building on this regional high-speed infrastructure, Spokane has created a public/private collaboration called the Virtual Possibilities Network, using funding from the local utility, Avista Corporation, in order to donate dark fiber infrastructure for research projects at local universities. And the City itself uses this connectivity for a full range of services from GIS mapping to finding rooms and resources for the homeless, from networking all libraries and community centers to ensuring that police and firefighters have wireless Internet access aboard their vehicles. Through many steps, large and small, Spokane is building broadband into the life of the City, the region and its residents, and using it as a lever to create a more competitive economy.
At the end of the last century, Riverside was a bedroom community and university town, agricultural center and warehouse hub in the desert 60 miles from Los Angeles. It also had a large population of poor and poorly educated residents and a signal failure to retain many of the 55,000 graduates leaving its institutions of higher learning.
A High Tech Taskforce
In 2004, the mayor and a community college dean convened a High Tech Taskforce to figure out how to channel some of California's high-tech growth into their community. It became the Riverside Technology CEO Forum, which led a multi-sector effort to change the city's destiny. The city built a fiber network to connect its operations as well as the University Research Park. A free WiFi network now offers up to 1 Mbps service through 1,600 access points, and exploding demand has led multiple commercial carriers to deploy high-speed broadband across the city. Riding the network is an array of award-winning e-government applications, from dynamic traffic management to graffiti tracking and removal.
Riverside has also worked to leverage its universities in multiple ways. College 311, a Web-based hub for educational social and community services, aims to double the number of Riverside youth who complete college. Targeting five knowledge-intensive industries, Riverside and its partners have launched innovation efforts from a highly-acclaimed virtual secondary school to an Innovation Center offering incubation space, business acceleration and interaction with angel and venture investors. These efforts have already attracted 35 high-tech companies and established 20 tech start-ups.
In 2006, Riverside started a digital inclusion program called SmartRiverside, using its free WiFi network, to provide technology training, free computers and software to all of the city's low-income families. Making it happen is Project Bridge, which provides recycled IT equipment to 1,500 new families each year. The equipment is refurbished by reformed gang members, who learn valuable skills; Project Bridge is southern California's largest recycler of e-waste, and the project is funded by eBay sale of excess equipment. From the streets to the research lab, Riverside is ready for the digital age.
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Read the latest updates about Riverside.
Labor Force: 160,700
Intelligent Community of the Year 2012
Smart21 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012
Top7 2011 | 2012
Northeast Ohio is an 18-county region bordering on one of America's Great Lakes to the north and including the major metropolitan center of Cleveland and the cities of Akron, Canton and Youngstown. To Americans of a certain age, the names of those cities tell the tale of the Industrial Age. This region was one of America's great trade and manufacturing centers, a key link in the national transportation system, home to steel companies and the place where Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller made his fortune. Following the Second World War, however, it fell into seemingly unstoppable decline, particularly in the core urban areas, as US manufacturing lost competitiveness in a global market. Amidst rising unemployment, eroding institutions, population loss and racial unrest, the tremendous wealth created in the industrial era was no longer invested in creating new businesses and industries, nor in education and the development of social capital. In 1978, Cleveland became the first US city to default on its creditors since the Great Depression and, in 2004 and 2006, was named America's poorest big city.
Yet the region retained hidden strengths: world-class health facilities, a vibrant arts culture, three major professional sports teams and respected institutions of higher learning, including Case Western Reserve University and Oberlin College. Another major asset was buried in a literal sense. During the 1990s, the telecom industry built out more than $4 trillion of fiber-optic communications systems worldwide. In most cases, these circuits followed the traditional transportation corridors such as rail lines and highways, which meant that Northeast Ohio found itself once again at the hub of a high-capacity transportation network.
In 2002, Case Western named as its new chief information officer a visionary named Lev Gonick. With global technology and community development experience on his resume, he soon began outlining a revolutionary idea. He believed that the region's nonprofit institutions could spearhead development of a common community network that would not only save them money and expand capacity but foster a wide range of innovation collaborations. The vision impressed many regional leaders, notable among them Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell. Case Western and the city assembled a core group of institutions including NorTech (an economic development organization focused on technology), Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland State University, the county library system, the local Public Broadcasting System (PBS) affiliate, and Cleveland's transit authority and school district. These were the founding members of a public-private partnership they called OneCleveland, which was eventually renamed OneCommunity. Under the leadership of its president Scot Rourke, OneCommunity forged partnerships with the region's telephone and cable carriers, under which the carriers donated unused fiber-optic circuits to OneCommunity and OneCommunity contracted for last-mile fiber and VPN services from the carriers.
To make the deal, OneCommunity had to overcome resistance to the creation of what carriers at first viewed as a new competitor. Fortunately, Rourke and his team came from the venture capital industry, which allowed them to talk the language of business plans and return on investment. It also ensured OneCommunity began life with a sustainable business model. Eventually, they persuaded all parties of OneCommunity's essential value: by helping the public and nonprofit sectors become better users of IT and telecom services, OneCommunity would save them money while simultaneously boosting demand across the region. And boost demand it did. Lev Gonick reports that, prior to OneCommunity, Case Western was using about 40 megabits per second of capacity for all of its operations. Within a few years of joining the OneCommunity network, average demand had risen to 400 Mbps. Since start-up, the OneCommunity network has expanded to connect more than 1,500 schools, libraries, governments, hospitals and universities. Its OneClassroom content and digital asset management system connects these users to world-class content from the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Orchestra, PBS and other sources. In 2006-07, the network hosted an 18-month program called Voices & Choices, which engaged tens of thousands of area leaders in Web-enabled "town meetings" in order to educate people about the challenges facing the regional economy and obtain their input. Voices & Choices has led to a regional economic development plan called Advance Northeast Ohio, which focuses on business growth and attraction, talent development, inclusion and government collaboration for greater efficiency.
OneCommunity would be impressive just as a story of network deployment - but it would not have achieved the potential that its creators envisioned. Because OneCommunity's Board is made up of the leading governmental and nonprofit institutions of the region, it became the hub of intensive collaboration. Today, the work of tech-based economic development agency NorTech, for example, is complemented by Team NEO, a joint venture of the largest metro chambers of commerce, which works to attract business investment in targeted sectors. Another nonprofit, JumpStart, provides venture capital to start-up companies with high growth potential. In 2006, it tied for ninth among the 100 most active investors making first-time investments in start-up or early-stage companies, according to Entrepreneur magazine, up from 61st place in 2005. Meanwhile, private investor Morgenthaler Ventures, founded in Cleveland with offices in Silicon Valley's Menlo Park, tied for 11th most active on the Entrepreneur list.
BioEnterprise is another nonprofit partnership, founded by The Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western and Summa Health Systems. It supports business formation, recruitment and acceleration for emerging medical device, biotechnology and health care service firms. Since its founding in 2002, it has created, recruited or accelerated more than 60 companies, helped them attract more than $565 million in funding, and concluded over 225 technology transfer deals with industry partners.
Rebuilding an Entrepreneurial Culture
In November, OneCommunity announced that it would share with the Northeast Ohio Regional Health Information Organization (NEO RHIO) an $11.2 million grant from the US Federal Communications Commission to develop a regional broadband health care network. The network will connect 19 rural hospitals and numerous clinics in 22 counties to over 30 existing hospitals already on the OneCommunity network. The project will enable NEO RHIO and its collaborating medical providers to deliver telemedicine, records access, medical imaging and remote diagnostic services to improve community health care. At the same time, it creates the opportunity for the region to become a center of excellence in the emerging business of electronic patient records management.
The efforts of OneCommunity and its partners are all directed to the same goal: rebuilding the business, political and social culture of entrepreneurship that created the region's Industrial Age prosperity. In the Broadband Economy, that takes a different set of assets and skills, from broadband to partnerships to digital literacy. It also takes long-term investment in human and social capital. But the partners are betting that same spirit that drove the region's earlier success can create a sustainable and inclusive economy in the 21st Century.
Labor Force: 2,125,400
Smart21 2008 | 2011
Like rural cities around the world, Mitchell has been shaped by the productivity revolution in agriculture. Over the past 80 years, automation has transformed farming from a labor-intensive business to a capital-intensive one employing a tiny percentage of the workforce. The six counties surrounding Mitchell have lost one-third of their population since 1930. The most talented and ambitious are inevitably the first to go.
Vision 2000 and Mitchell Technical Institute
Mitchell began to plan a different future in the late 1980s. A strategic plan called Vision 2000 called for a community-wide emphasis on education, healthcare, infrastructure and recreation. It led to the merger of two hospitals, creating a unified healthcare system that became the city’s biggest employer, and the construction of new schools that partnered with the local university and recreation center to advance educational excellence. Investments in city infrastructure were funded by an increase in the local sales tax.
It was during this period that the local community college, the Mitchell Technical Institute (MTI), began to assume a unique leadership role. MTI and a consulting company, Martin and Associates, developed a plan to create a municipal telephone company to bring advanced services to the city. Put to a vote, the plan was defeated due to concerns about cost fed by the opposition of incumbent providers. But MTI was undeterred. It developed a technology center to serve students and the community, which soon became a collocation facility for communications providers. Through a Federal grant, MTI upgraded it into a Network Operations Center meeting strict industry and government security standards, and the NOC began to host more and more networks including university connections to Internet II. This evidence of demand persuaded regional carriers to expand broadband service, culminating in a 2005 decision by Santel Communications to build a fiber-to-the-premise network.
Investing in the Next Generation
Telecommunications development has created another economy on top of Mitchell’s agricultural one. It consists of engineering, consulting and software companies that have made Mitchell into a regional hub for expertise and services. The city and its institutions have responded by deepening their support for the digital economy. The school system has introduced a 1-to-1 laptop and tablet program for middle and secondary school students, and is piloting mass customized learning.
MTI has invested $40 million in a new technology-based campus, where it trains hundreds of communications and data technicians, while Dakota Wesleyan University has created centers for entrepreneurship and health sciences. A local angel investors network has sprung up and begun incubating new communications startups. So successful has the new economy become that it is attracting new office industries including healthcare support companies Alleviant and Avera Health Systems. Mitchell is responding by partnering with recruitment companies to attract talent from across America to the city. Rather than seeing its population decline, Mitchell has become a Midwest magnet for ICT talent.
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Read the latest updates about Mitchell.
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Mitchell was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Brain Gain.
Smart21 2013 | 2014 | 2015
A rural city of 26,000 people 60 miles southwest of Atlanta, LaGrange has pioneered in developing public-private ventures for broadband-based economic development. Set in the rural Georgia countryside, LaGrange is an enterprise-based community that levies no local taxes but instead earns revenue by delivering services: electricity from the municipal-owned plant, water and sewer, and most recently telecommunications. Through partnerships with companies including ITC Holding and Charter Communications, the city has funded and constructed a total of four broadband networks, serving businesses, institutions and residents within and beyond the city limits.
Creating a Community of Use
Using this infrastructure, the city introduced in 2000 a free high-speed Internet access service for all residents, with free installation and training, delivered via a Worldgate set-top system and the cable TV network. Free Internet access has become a valuable community-building tool that provides residents of all ages and economic levels with email and Web-browsing services, creating a “community of use” for Internet and broadband applications. Using its network, the city has attracted a new calling center company and recently opened an Internet hosting center and small-scale TV production facility. At the same time, its network operations generate over $1 million in revenue for the city treasury each year. Despite its small size and location in a rural area of the US, LaGrange is a proven leader in broadband deployment and the creation of applications that attract a critical mass of local users.
Intelligent Community of the Year 2000
In 1996, a group of Florida educators, business owners and economic developers teamed to create the Florida High Tech Corridor Council in an effort to make Florida, known worldwide as a tourist destination, a viable place for high-tech industries. The Corridor includes 21 counties stretching across the center of the state from Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic to Tampa Bay on the Gulf coast. This regional community now contain 6,800 high-tech companies employing more than 158,000 workers in optics and photonics, medical technology, information technology, aviation and aerospace, simulation and training, and microelectronics. Business Week has rated it one of the fastest-growing technology centers in America. In terms of broadband, the region ranks among the best-served in the nation, with the local carrier, Verizon, having invested more than $1.7 billion in the last five years. For consumers and small businesses, companies including Verizon, GTE, RoadRunner, Time Warner, Earthlink and AOL deliver DSL and cable modem service — an array of providers that most Americans can only dream about.
Like most successful technology clusters, the Corridor was the result of effective collaboration between academia (University of Central Florida and University of South Florida), the private sector and local and state government. That cooperation continues, with the partners creating programs in workforce development to fill an anticipated gap between the growth of the working age population and demand for employees, including US$80 million recently raised by the universities and private sector to fund new workforce development and research programs. The Council was also able to attract a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to fund technology education. The Florida High Tech Corridor Council is an outstanding example of a public-private partnership that aims to solve workforce development problems for the broadband economy before they can stifle future growth.
In the United States, the financial crisis of 2008 gave rise to plunging property values, massive government deficits on the national and state levels and an anguished round of budget-cutting. Which makes all the more remarkable the steady, long-term approach of the small city of Dublin, Ohio USA.
Most American cities and towns fund themselves on property and sales taxes, but Dublin has a local income tax. It provides a dependable stream of revenue that allows the city to maintain ample cash reserves and plan for the long term. Dublin also has a successful track record at using its income tax receipts as collateral for what is called tax-increment financing. This has helped make possible a virtuous cycle in which savvy investments by the city attract investments by business that create high-quality employment. With a population of 41,000, Dublin has a labor force today of 70,000, drawn to the city from throughout the Columbus metropolitan area.
Much of this investment in in physical infrastructure Twenty-five percent of the 2% income tax is dedicated to capital improvements, which have included the Emerald Parkway, the Dublin Commmunity Recreation Center, and a planned 1,300 Innovation Park, a next-generation technology business campus that aims to unite the community’s strengths in ICT, research and development. Government services are also well-funded; all three secondary schools in the city were named to Newsweek magazine’s 2010 list of top schools in the country.
But one form of infrastructure stands out in Dublin, and has become a connecting thread that unifies and powers its other economic and social assets. They call it DubLink.
Following telecommunications deregulation in 1996, Dublin began installing a network of underground conduit to encourage deployment of broadband by private carriers. A public-private partnership with the Fishel Company soon followed, and by 2003, Dublin had built and lit the DubLink fiber network to connect city facilities and replace telephone company service. Dublin's contribution to the project came from those tax-increment financing bonds, funded by future increases in tax revenue that would result from the improvements being financed.
In managing the network, the city drew a bright line between public and private use. The city delivers no services except for governmental use, and leases either conduit space or its own dark fiber to carriers serving the local market. It is an "open access" strategy that has proven successful in communities as diverse as Stockholm, Sweden (2009 Intelligent Community of the Year) and Loma Linda, California (2007 Smart21 Community).
As Dublin installed more and more fiber in its conduits, it began doing capacity-sharing deals other public and public-private entities. DubLink now interconnects with Columbus FiberNet, which reaches the state capital and four other cities in the metro area. It partners with the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), carrying some of the traffic on OSC's 1,600-mile fiber backbone. In return, the OSC and Dublin joined forces to create the Central Ohio Research Network (CORN), a fiber infrastructure connecting governments, schools and businesses to Ohio colleges, universities, research institutes and Federal labs. Other fiber transport partnerships include Central Ohio Broadband, linking with other cities that have developed fiber networks, and agreements with two carrier hotels in Columbus to exchange traffic in return for giving DubLink customers connection to global carriers. A Dublin nonprofit, the Online Computer Library Center, was granted two fibers on the DubLink network, and uses them to help provide research services to nearly 70,000 libraries in 112 countries.
This “invisible infrastructure” has had major positive impacts on the community. CORN allows schools, businesses and institutions to explore experimental networking technologies through Internet2, where the next generation of commercial networking technologies is taking shape. An annual Ohio Supercomputer Center project uses videoconferencing to bring together thousands of elementary and secondary school students for an all-day learning conference. DubLink is used to deliver robust e-government services, from online registration for classes, tax filing and permits to remote attendance at City Council meetings. The city also partners with state government to promote OhioMeansJobs, a career Web site currently hosting 8 million resumes and hundreds of job openings.
Dublin developed a city-center WiFi network, which uses DubLink as its backbone. It has now budgeted for expansion to cover the entire city. In this public-private venture, Dublin contributes its infrastructure (network and hotspots on city property) and a private company, HighSpeedAir, provides services. The city uses the network for mobile computing by its first responders and field staff, fleet monitoring of snow plows and other city vehicles, and video monitoring of traffic. It is also used to support city-sponsored cultural events, like the Dublin Irish Festival weekends and the Jack Nicklaus' PGA Memorial Tournament. And HighSpeedAir markets access to small businesses through corporate buildings and office parks.
The city also views WiFi as a way to reduce digital exclusion. To support widespread, affordable connectivity, Dublin provides free computer training to adults and seniors through its recreation centers.
It takes more than information transport, however, to build a competitive economy. Dublin is a partner of TechColumbus, a regional nonprofit whose mission is to accelerate the growth of the innovation economy through business plan counseling, market assessment and help in gaining access to capital. More than 60 Dublin companies have benefited to date. The $625,000 that the city invested in TechColumbus in 2009 has already yielded $14.6 million in investment, debt financing and new revenue.
The city's Dublin Entrepreneurial Center (DEC) opened in 2009 with one start-up tenant and now houses nearly 50 companies and support organizations, including the Center for Innovative Food Technology and the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition. It hosts twice-monthly co-working events, where Dublin's business community participates in training and meets the community's newest entrepreneurial class. Inspired by its participation in ICF’s programs, the city is also establishing a Center for Global Business Development at DEC to provide collaboration, education and support for Dublin companies seeking to do business overseas.
This ongoing effort to support and strengthen entrepreneurship helps explain why there are 3,000 companies in Dublin, with an average of just seven employees each, while the city is also home to multinational corporations such as Wendy’s International and Ashland. Innovative young companies include Neoprobe, which develops biomedical devices to improve cancer surgery outcomes; EnergyGateway, which offers energy management services to commercial customers and was recently acquired by WorldEnergy; Sypherlink, whose software automates data-sharing across the enterprise; and Cardiox, which sells detection systems for the prevention of strokes.
Healthcare has been a particular beneficiary of Dublin’s high level of connectivity and the anchoring presence of Cardinal Health, a Fortune 17 provider of healthcare management services. OhioHealth, a nonprofit network of hospitals and healthcare facilities, uses DubLink and partner networks to connect five major hospitals, billing centers and its corporate headquarters across Central Ohio Three years ago, OhioHealth opened Dublin Methodist Hospital, the first new nonprofit hospital in the region in two decades, which has been named one of the “Most Wired” hospitals in America by Hospitals and Health Networks magazine every year since then.
The hospital has deployed technology to create a completely digital, wireless and near-paperless environment that better serves patients while increasing productivity. A comprehensive electronic medical records system provides access to physicians and clinicians both inside and outside the hospital. Fingerprint authorization protects drugs in the pharmacy system from abuse, and a barcode scanning system checks all medications to make sure that the correct drug is being used at the correct dosage. RFID tags keep track of all equipment in the hospital, which reduces losses to theft. Staff and physicians use a wireless system to locate and communicate with each other, saving countless hours, while mobile camera carts can be deployed to provide continuous video monitoring of patients anywhere in the facility.
Workforce of the Future
In 2008, Dublin began a major focus on workforce issues. The city benefits from proximity to Columbus, the state capital, with its many colleges and universities. Eighty percent of residents have a bachelor’s or graduate degree. But Dublin’s leaders understand the vital importance of creating a workforce that meets the specific needs of its major employers and fast-growing entrepreneurial companies.
The city began by hosting a series of education and business roundtables, which led to an annual Business-Education Summit on Workforce Development, now in its third year. Among other results, the effort led to a partnership between the state-sponsored BioOhio program and Dublin’s Tolles Technical & Career Center for the creation of a biotechnology program, and another between the city and the Columbus State Center for Workforce Development to bring targeted training programs to the city.
The old adage says that “slow and steady wins the race.” Through good and bad economic times, Dublin has shown remarkable steadiness in assembling the key elements of 21st Century economic growth. Slow, however, does not appear to be a word in the Dublin vocabulary.
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Labor Force: 70,000
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