Connect with us

Broadband's Impact

‘Giganomics’ Looks to Tech Entrepreneurship in Kansas City as New Model for Economic Development

TINLEY PARK, ILLINOIS, November 8, 2013 – There is a new holy grail in economic development, and it isn’t land use, tax policy, or cheap energy costs. In a word, it’s Giganomics.

The term was coined by David Sandel, President of the Gigabit Communities and Smart Cities consultancy, at the Broadband Communities Economic Development Summit here on Thursday. Giganomics refers to the process of using Gigabit Networks, or super-fast fiber-optic broadband connections, as the prime tool for entrepreneur-led economic development.

David Sandel, President of Gigabit Communities and Smart Cities, Sandel and Associates, leads a discussion at the Broadband Communities Economic Development Summit. To the right is Steve Fennel, Director of telecom outreach at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and Rick Usher, Assistant City Manager for Kansas City, Missouri.

[…]

Published

on

TINLEY PARK, ILLINOIS, November 8, 2013 – There is a new holy grail in economic development, and it isn’t land use, tax policy, or cheap energy costs. In a word, it’s Giganomics.

The term was coined by David Sandel, President of the Gigabit Communities and Smart Cities consultancy, at the Broadband Communities Economic Development Summit here on Thursday. Giganomics refers to the process of using Gigabit Networks, or super-fast fiber-optic broadband connections, as the prime tool for entrepreneur-led economic development.

David Sandel, President of Gigabit Communities and Smart Cities, Sandel and Associates, leads a discussion at the Broadband Communities Economic Development Summit. To the right is Steve Fennel, Director of telecom outreach at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and Rick Usher, Assistant City Manager for Kansas City, Missouri.

The chief exhibit for Giganomics is Kansas City, selected by internet search giant Google for its first Gigabit Network. Judging by the enthusiasm and energy voiced on a panel of Kansas City experts assembled here by Sandel, Giganomics is working.

In addition to the rapid pace in the direct construction of Google’s fiber network, tens of thousands of new jobs in Kansas City can be attributed to the new Gigabit Network, panelists said.

Equally important are hundreds of techies relocating to Kansas City, bringing a vitality and energy to the city that hasn’t been seen in decades. They’re starting business and getting funded to do so.

“Over the last 30 years, Kansas City has been a [jobs] exporter to the coasts, to Chicago, and to Denver,” said Mike Burke, co-chair of the Mayor’s Bi-state Innovation Team, which got Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas to cooperate on economic development. “We are seeing those young people coming back.

“It is good for the future of Kansas City,” he said. “We are in a worldwide competition for cities to grow, nurture, keep and steal talent in the next decade.”

By the end of the year, Google Fiber’s Gigabit Network in the two Kansas Cities is poised to pass 160,000 homes, said Rick Usher, Assistant City Manager for Kansas City, Missouri. Usher showed slides demonstrating the rapid pace of Google’s structure. All told, 1,000 employees, three contractors, and 50 subcontractors from 17 states are working on the fiber build, he said.

In addition to its announced plans to build a Gigabit Network in Austin, Texas; and its purchase of the iProvo fiber network in Provo, Utah; Google has committed to building its fiber network in 19 cities in the Kansas City metropolitan area. That’s about half of the 2 million homes in the region, said Sandel.

One of the most innovative aspects of Google’s Gigabit Network is the creation of the concept of a “fiberhood” — a distinct geographical area poised to receive the super-fast connectivity. Dividing the 19 cities in the Kansas City region up into “fiberhoods” has enabled a healthy competition among neighborhoods for pre-commitments to purchase Google’s service.

Now, in the neighborhoods to get a Gigabit, there are also “fiberhouses,” or homes for hackers. The vibrant tech community has breathed civic life into the city and has become “a talent attractor and retainer,” said Usher. “Young people that don’t have ties to their communities are jumping on a plane to Kansas City and living in a fiberhouse.”

Burke, an attorney whose career has been focused on real estate development, said that dizzying pace of the last 18 months prompted a light bulb in him to go off. He said that in an era of Giganomics, the old economic development tools don’t work.

“Tax breaks, tax abatements, tax-increment financing: they don’t work for startups,” he said. “We had to invent the tools for startups,” which he said were:

  • Finding free and reduced cost office space
  • Access to venture capital funding
  • Health care, and
  • Data storage.

Finding access to creative venture capital and other means of funding startup activities is a crucial new tool, agreed Aaron Deacon, Managing Director of KC Digital Drive, a community-driven effort to leverage the Gigabit Network for economic developments.

Deacon said that the group’s four top priorities were:

  • Expanding economic opportunities
  • Digital inclusion and digital literacy
  • Next-generation application development
  • Interacting with the leadership of other Gigabit cities.

Deacon cited the cities’ “Digital Sandbox,” a proof of concept incubator which had played a role in birthing 27 companies — with 15 more on top for the next six months. The sandbox received $1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce, he said.

 

Aaron Deacon of KC Digital Drive, and Mike Burke, of the Kansas City Mayors’ Bi-State Innovation Team, at the Broadband Communities Economic Development Summit

He also said that an effort in providing low-cost office space, a separate group called KC Startup Village had provided office space for about 30 startup businesses.

In attempt to quantify what this kind of entrepreneurial activity has on economic development, Deacon speculated, “You have a couple hundred people working in these, some of which have moved to Kansas City [to start their businesses.]

“Some of them will be successful, some will not,” he said. Among those that fail, he said, “some will stay, and go to work for other companies. It is hard to measure the impact of those 200 people” — but Deacon believes that it is substantial.

Additionally, Deacon cited recent investments in new startups: $6 million in mobile search application Leap 2, and $500,000 in Hoopla.io, an event marketing and syndication platform.

Also on the economic development front, Burke cited health care software company’s Cerner Enterprises’ decision to purchase 237 acres to build a new campus that would employ up to 15,000 people in Kansas City.

In fitting with the “Giganomics” theme of the panel, this more conventional jobs announcement was, in this discussion, almost greeted as an afterthought.

Drew Clark, Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com, tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, the universal service fund, and wireless spectrum policy, at http://twitter.com/broadbandcensus. Nationally recognized for his knowledge on telecommunications law and policy, Clark brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband: job creation, telemedicine, online learning, public safety, the smart grid, eGovernment, and family connectedness. Clark is also available on Google+ and Twitter.

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney. He has closely tracked the trends in and mechanics of digital infrastructure for 20 years, and has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers navigate coverage, identify markets, broker infrastructure, and operate in the public right of way. He brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. The articles and posts on Broadband Breakfast and affiliated social media, including the BroadbandCensus Twitter feed, are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

Digital Inclusion

Debra Berlyn: What’s New in 2022 for Aging and Tech?

Older adults continue at a rapid pace to adopt tech that assists the aging process.

Published

on

The author of this Expert Opinion is Debra Berlyn, executive director of GOAL

It’s the start of a new year and time to view what’s on the horizon for the latest technology innovations. To our great anticipation, the most significant technology event of the year, the Consumer Electronics Show, returned in-person to Las Vegas!

CES 2022 literally rolled in with some eye-catching innovations and gadgets unveiled at CES, notably with a BMW that can change its color and patterns with the use of a phone app. CES also unveiled the usual army of robots to clean the house, provide learning skills, and entertain. The Ameca robot is “human-like” and can be programmed with software using artificial intelligence, offering both speech and facial/object recognition. Ameca will engage in conversation and complement you on your lovely red hat.

The more important technology story for consumers for 2022, isn’t just the “wow” innovations that may or may not make it to market this year, it is the tech that will enhance and improve all of our lives. This is particularly important for the aging community, who increasingly rely on tech to stay connected to family and community, and as an important component of healthcare.

Those 65 and older continue to adopt tech at a rapid pace, narrowing the gap with their age 18-29 younger counterparts. Now, over 65% of older adults have broadband at home, 44% have tablets, and 61% have a smartphone. These “basics” form the foundation for layering the more sophisticated health and wellness and smart home innovations available today, and on the horizon.

The pandemic has emphasized the importance of tech for the aging community. A recent AARP study has confirmed that technology is a “habit” that is here to stay for older adults. The past couple of years has led to an emphasis on tech devices to monitor our health, help us stay fit and get connected to our health care professionals.  We are spending more time at home for work and leisure, and while at home we want to be able to manage our energy use, home security, appliances and more.

According to the chief technology officer at Amazon, Werner Vogels, one of his primary predictions for tech this year is, “In 2022, our homes and buildings will become better assistants and more attentive companions to truly help with our most human needs. The greatest impact in the next few years will be with the elderly.”

Technology can provide solutions to make life easier for older individuals

A critical opportunity that technology provides is to solve tough problems such as how to make life just a bit easier for older individuals and address their greatest challenges as they age.  Voice assistive tech continues to be a popular device for older adults. One-third (35%) of those 50-plus now own a home assistant, up from 17% just two years ago, with the voice assistant serving as a significant tool to reduce isolation for older adults.

While the AARP study found that growth of ownership of voice assistants, such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, may have slowed for younger demographic groups, ownership continues to be on the rise for older adults.

Here are several examples of innovations for the aging community:

  • The Labrador Retriever is an assistive “robot” that empowers individuals to live more independently by providing practical, physical assistance with everyday activities. The robot is a rolling container with trays that can be “commanded” to go to different locations in the home to retrieve objects and carry them to various locations. It maps the home and “learns” how to navigate the space to operate wirelessly.
  • Tech devices that enable older individuals to track several critical aging factors continue to be introduced and desired in the marketplace. The “Buddy” from LiveFreely, is smartwatch software that monitors and manages fall prediction and detection, medication schedules and reminders, and emergency notifications. With alerts to family members, caregivers and emergency services providers, it provides wearers with an enhanced sense of security and independence. The software operates on both the Apple and Fitbit device.
  • For any aging adult with mobility issues, or their caregivers, you know that just getting around can be a challenge and now there are advances to the most needed tool in aging: the walker. One company, Camino, has developed a sleeker, advanced walker with an ergonomic design, lights and improved navigation for bumps in the road to provide greater walking assurance and balance.
  • The “Freestyle,” from Samsung, is an entertainment component of the smart home for older adults. It is a projector device with accessibility features that can be used inside the home or out, to project content such as a movie, photos or messages from any smartphone onto any surface.

AARP’s 2022 study on technology trends also recognizes that the increasing older demographic has significant purchasing power in the consumer market, including for technology spending. The study found, “Tech spending in 2020 among adults 50+ is up 194% (from $394 to $1144) to modernize, update, or create a better experience online.”

It also projected that by the year 2030, “the 50-plus market is projected to swell to 132 million people who are expected to spend on average $108 billion annually on tech products.”

In the coming years, older adults will have a wide range of new and innovative products to exercise their market power and find the right technology to enhance and assist their lives as they age. Over the past decade, technology has empowered older adults to be increasingly more independent, battle isolation, and stay informed and connected.  While we can’t predict the future, the next decade should be an exciting opportunity for new innovations for the aging community.

Debra Berlyn serves as the executive director of The Project to Get Older Adults onLine (GOAL), and she is also the president of Consumer Policy Solutions. She represented AARP on telecom issues and the digital television transition and has worked closely with national aging organizations on several internet issues, including online safety and privacy concerns.  She serves as vice chair of the Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee and is on the board of the National Consumers League and is a board member and senior fellow with the Future of Privacy Forum. This Expert Opinion is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

Continue Reading

Digital Inclusion

Digital Inclusion Leaders a Critical Step to Closing Digital Divide: National League of Cities

The National League of Cities said government leaders need to have ‘multiple points of engagement’ with communities.

Published

on

Lena Geraghty, National League of Cities director of urban innovation

WASHINGTON, January 20, 2022 – To understand the digital divide, cities need to include digital equity leaders in their broadband needs assessment programs, the National League of Cities said at an event on community connectivity challenges Wednesday.

A broadband needs assessment would allow city leaders to explore the extent of the digital divide in their communities, said Lena Geraghty, the National League of Cities’ director of urban innovation.

“[A needs assessment] enable city leaders to dig into who’s being excluded, what’s currently available in your city, and what solutions city leaders can use” to close the digital divide, she said.

“The community is going to know best about where access exists, where gaps exist, and the needs that will make connectivity better,” Geraghty said. To get the best picture of a community’s need, stakeholders must find and include the community’s digital equity leaders in the data-gathering process, she added.

“These could be people that are knowledgeable about digital equity or people that are experiencing the digital divide,” she said. “Think really broadly about what it means to be a leader and the type of information these folks can bring to bear in solving the digital divide in your communities.”

Geraghty said it may be useful to formalize the leaders’ work by creating a broadband working group or ad hoc committee led by the city’s government. “Giving some roles and responsibilities can help everyone move in the same in direction, there’s agreement, and really clear goals and outcomes.”

Geraghty added that it’s important for government leaders to establish multiple points of engagement for the community. “It’s not enough to gather data or information from people once,” she said. “The state of access to the internet and devices is always changing,” so leaders should create multiple touch points for community input.

The National League of Cities released its Digital Equity Playbook for cities in December, walking readers through how they can promote digital equity in their cities. The playbook has a four-step process on how to get started with digital equity.

By walking readers through the process of connecting with the community, evaluating the connectivity landscape, gathering foundational information and reporting on findings, city leaders will be prepared to target broadband funding to unserved and underserved areas in their communities.

Continue Reading

Environment

FCC Commissioner Starks Says Commission Looking into Impact of Broadband, 5G on Environment

Starks sat down to discuss the promise of smart grid technology for the environment.

Published

on

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks

WASHINGTON, January 19, 2022 – Former and current leaders within the Federal Communications Commission agreed Thursday that it is important to make sure the FCC’s broadband efforts support the nation’s goals for the environment.

On Thursday, during a Cooley law firm fireside chat event, Robert McDowell, a former FCC director, and current FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks discussed how broadband expansion and next-generation 5G mobile networks will affect the environment.

Starks said that the commission is currently focusing on answering that exact question and are evaluating the current attempts to protect the environment, as more money is expected from the federal government and as broadband infrastructure expands. That includes putting more fiber into the ground and erecting more cell towers, but also allowing for a broadband-enabled smart grid system that will make automated decisions on energy allocation.

Smart grid systems, for example, provide real-time monitoring of the energy used in the electrical system. These systems can help to reduce consumption and carbon emissions, Starks said, by rerouting excess power and addressing power outages instantaneously in the most efficient and environmentally friendly manner. The smart grid systems will monitor “broadband systems in the 900 MHz band,” said Starks.

Starks also noted the Senate’s “Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation” initiative, which would set apart $500 million for cities across America so they can begin working on ways to lower carbon emissions.

FCC also focused on digital discrimination

Starks said the commission is also focusing on “making sure that there is no digital discrimination on income level, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin,” and that it all comes down to funding and who needs the money.

He stated that the first step is to finalize the maps and data that have been collected so funding can be targeted to the areas and people that need it the most. Many have remarked that the $65 billion allocated to broadband from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will not be divvied out until adequate maps are put in place.

Starks noted that broadband subsidy program Lifeline, although fundamental to some people’s lives, is significantly underutilized. Starks stated that participation rates hover around 20 percent, which led the FCC to explore other options while attempting to make Lifeline more effective. For example, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program – which provides monthly broadband subsidies – has been replaced by the Affordable Connectivity Program, a long-term and revised edition of the pandemic-era program.

Starks and McDowell also stated their support for the confirmation by the Senate of Alan Davidson as the permanent head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and expressed that Davidson will be a key player in these efforts.

Continue Reading

Recent

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field

Trending