Chicago would like to be one of the digital capitals of the United States. And the road to get there will be paved with broadband.
That's why, as part of major investments in physical infrastructure upgrades, Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced The Broadband Challenge. The goal of this initiative is to harness the best ideas -- from residents, businesses, and telecommunications companies -- for how to secure Chicago's position as a digital capital.
In September, the City of Chicago issued a request for information seeking feedback on accomplishing three main goals: building a next-generation broadband infrastructure for the city's business and commercial zones, extending broadband service into underserved areas, and providing free wireless access in public spaces throughout Chicago. To date, we have received 24 responses and are using the creative ideas they contain to develop a request for proposals for implementation in 2013.
In driving the buildout of this infrastructure, the city will first focus on establishing an open, gigabit-speed network in key innovation areas. The City of Chicago has identified 15 innovation zones in key commercial and industrial corridors and will work with the private sector to leverage infrastructure and assets to ensure low-cost broadband is available in these zones, with the goal of extension to all businesses in the city and, ultimately, to provide new options for high-speed Internet for residents who live in underserved and disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The City of Chicago brings a number of assets to The Broadband Challenge, including unused fiber capacity, streamlined permitting, and unique access to light pole, water, sewer, and freight tunnel infrastructure.
Helping Chicago succeed in the global economy -- and set an example for other global cities -- requires rethinking the speed and cost of network connectivity. The Broadband Challenge seeks to build a new platform for our residents and businesses to learn, connect, and innovate in the 21st century. We'd love to hear your ideas on how we can get there.
It is not just having the technology but it is about applying it effectively Once again, we see the 'common wisdom' about high speed internet access being the goal. Chicago presents a real opportunity to go beyond this baseline objective and lead the country in innovative application of high speed broadband for a regional strategy. A significant problem for Chicago and the greater extended metropolitan communities is that of transportation demand. A recent major Chicago periodical was discussing the current topic of tolls for commuters and pushed aside the potential impact of information technologies with the comment "telework is no help". Here is Chicago luring UAL, Motorola and AT&T (formerly Ameritech) from the densly populated areas of the northwest corridor onl;y to conclude that growing transportation demand could only be addressed by charging hire fees. How does this fit into the use of broadband technologies to make Chicago a key information hub? It gives Chicago a chance to think and act outside the box by creating a deliberate and specific use network of secur4e facilitiesto localize job access and systematically address transportation demand in a way current remote work practices cannot. Internet technologies can be used for more than just general purpose utility access to "THE INTERNET". Developing an innovative multi-location workplace design would show the vision and resolve of Chicago to work with its major employers and neighboring communities. The New York Times articles on community incentives used to support single location methedologies is exactly the wrong kind of thinking and behaviour that could limit Chicago as mearely another "me too" gigabit contender. I am hopeful Chicago Leaders will consider a more deliberate use of these transformative resources to re-engineer the broader geographic local economies and truely lead the nation in innovative and integrated approaches to economic and environmental sustainablility.
Re: Response rate Nicole, surprisingly, the responses were almost exactly the number we were projecting, though the diversity of respondents was a happy surprise. Promotion happens via normal procurement channels that vendors monitor, social media which has been vital for diverse response, and old-fashioned speaking at conferences/conventions and with companies we think could contribute meaningful ideas. Also, we launched the challenge with an announcement of free wireless in our most emblematic public space, Millennium Park, which ensured that people who don't even know what a fiber network was knew about it. Everyone likes free wifi. :-)
Response rate Hi John. Thanks for keeping us in the loop about the work you're doing with the Broadband Challenge. Curious about the response rate... is that lower than what you were anticipating? How are you promoting this so that people know to weigh in with ideas?
Kind of puzzled This sounds like a great idea, but I'm not really following why Chicago hasn't been on top of this previously. I mean, Singapore and other cities have some of the best connectivity in the world, but they haven't needed to crowdsource to figure out how to implement it.
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