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Salisbury joins Smart Gigabit Communities program

By Amanda Raymond
amanda.raymond@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Salisbury will be developing new gigabit applications along with three other cities that were recently inducted into the Smart Gigabit Communities program.

US Ignite and the White House announced the new program participants on Monday.

The program is a national network of communities that are developing gigabit Internet applications or public services to solve issues in their communities, including issues in education, workforce development, public safety and community health, according to a press release.

With US Ignite helping with ideas, education, resources and funding, the communities are each called to develop two gigabit Internet applications or public services.

The program, funded by the National Science Foundation, was announced last September during the launch of the White House’s Smart Cities Initiative.

US Ignite is a nonprofit organization funded by the National Science Foundation to help create next-generation Internet applications that provide public benefit to six economic areas: health care, education, public safety, energy, transportation and advanced manufacturing, according to a press release.

Entrance in the program will also give Salisbury access to the applications and public services developed by other Smart Gigabit Communities.

Joe Kochan, US Ignite chief operating officer, said applications created in the program may encourage more people to use broadband service.

“… If advanced networks are fast, responsive and widely available, companies can and will produce more capable applications to run on those networks, which in turn brings new users online and increases use among those who already subscribe to broadband services,” he said in a press release.

Salisbury announced its 10-gigabit Fibrant service at Catawba College in September 2015, making Salisbury America’s first 10 gig city. Robert Van Geons, executive director of RowanWorks, said Catawba College was one of the first places serviced by the city’s upgraded broadband service.

The college was then able to create CEED, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Experimental Development, which provides student entrepreneurs with the technology, funding and resources to become business owners.

Now that the city is part of the Smart Gigabit Communities Program, a partnership with Livingstone College has also been created to foster new innovation.

“It is our goal at Livingstone College to equip and enable our students to be prepared for leadership and service in the global society,” said Dr. Jimmy Jenkins, president of Livingstone. “Our continuing collaboration with the city of Salisbury represents an unparalleled opportunity for our students in the fields of entrepreneurship and technology to reach this goal. Because of this partnership, our students will have an unfettered platform upon which to accelerate their success as innovators in the 21st century.”

Other communities in the program are using US Ignite’s resources to improve city systems and services.

In Kansas City, Mo., the collaboration with US Ignite led to the city creating smart city infrastructure called Digital Town Square, according to Startland News.

The city realized that citizens needed a more advanced infrastructure to be able to take advantage of Google Fiber, Google’s gigabit broadband service.

The project included developing specialized hardware to remove delays associated with the existing broadband infrastructure, like lag times during video conferences.

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the city of Madison, Wis., partnered with the university to develop applications when it joined the program.

One project the city and university are working on is an application that tracks the usage of the city’s buses for better transportation planning. The city will be able to use the detailed, real-time information from the app to analyze things like the most popular routes and ridership at different times of the day.

Van Geons said the program will be able to help local entrepreneurs connect with other communities to create new products.

“I just think that this program opens up a door for our community to connect to other super-fast cities and to access information and support services that will help us develop an entrepreneur-centric community,” Van Geons said.

Glen Ricart, co-founder and CTO of US Ignite, said the communities’ ability to share and build on each other’s projects enhances the benefits for all of them, according to a press release.

Along with Salisbury, Adelaide, Australia (which is also the first city outside the United States to join), Albuquerque, N.M., and Washington, D.C., were also named Smart Cities.

“Salisbury is excited to be one of the four communities working with US Ignite on leveraging our broadband utility for increased technological knowledge to contribute solution to communities, both locally and globally,” Mayor Karen Alexander said.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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