July 15, 2010 By Russell Nichols
It's been five months since Google announced plans to transform the country's broadband landscape with an experimental, ultra high-speed network.
So far, the search engine giant hasn't chosen the lucky target community or communities. But this week, Google launched its "Fiber for Communities" website to keep users up to speed on the progress of the project.
"We set up this site to thank you for your enthusiasm, to share our experiences as we move forward with our project, and to provide additional resources for anyone interested in ultra high-speed Internet access," the site said.
This past spring, the communities across the country went crazy for the idea of Google's 1 GB per second fiber Internet: mayors swam with sharks, cities changed their names and spoof videos hit the Web. In total, 1,100 communities and nearly 200,000 individuals responded for a chance to become Google's test site.
"Over the coming months, we'll be reviewing the responses to determine where to build," James Kelly, product manager, wrote in a Google blog post in March. "As we narrow down our choices, we'll be conducting site visits, meeting with local officials and consulting with third-party organizations. Based on a rigorous review of the data, we will announce our target community or communities by the end of the year."
In recent months, the Google broadband buzz has simmered down. Communities can't really do anything other than wait for the big announcement expected by year's end.
In the meantime, Google set up the website to educate people on how the technology works with a frequently asked questions page and links to additional resources. On a "take action" page, Google encourages communities to support legislation to install conduit for high-speed Internet as part of transportation construction projects.
"While taking these steps won't have any impact on whether Google selects a particular community for its fiber deployment," noted the site, "they will allow you to have a direct hand in bringing ultra high-speed broadband to your community."
And, not to forget the people "hungry for better and faster broadband access," Google employees put together a video thanking everyone for the submissions and support.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.