- Eight jurisdictions have joined the Smart Gigabit Communities program, led by the US Ignite initiative that promotes US leadership in developing applications that create positive social change. There are now 25 communities in the program.
- The most recent jurisdictions are Adelaide, Australia; Colorado Springs, CO; Eugene-Springfield, OR; Las Vegas; Lincoln, NE; the Red Wing Ignite innovation center in Red Wing, MN; San Francisco; and Lexington, KY. Adelaide is the first international city to participate, while Red Wing is the first rural area to do so.
- The program, in existence for two years, is funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation, along with sponsorships from cities and corporate partners. It brings the communities together to work on developing Internet of Things (IoT) applications and share their work and resources with one another.
This latest round of acceptances increases the program's diversity. At the unveiling Wednesday morning at the Smart Cities Connect conference in Kansas City, MO, organizers heralded the Red Wing Ignite center, located in a rural city of just over 16,000 people, and also applauded Adelaide's inclusion in the U.S.-based program.
Nishal Mohan, US Ignite's National Community Leader, said in his remarks that the additions mark a "tipping-point" for the program. And it seems more communities are realizing that such collaborations are helpful as they develop the next generation of applications to help residents. With many issues that face cities in the 21st century not respecting jurisdictional borders, initiatives such as this allow them to learn from each other and collaborate.
In announcing the names of the new cities and communities, Scott Turnbull, National Technical Leader at US Ignite, noted that many have existing partnerships in place. He mentioned the examples of Adelaide, which works alongside the University of South Australia on smart cities, while Las Vegas has partnered with internet provider Cox Communications for the program.
For San Francisco's interim Mayor Mark Farrell, D, that innovation begins with providing high-speed internet to all city residents in a public-private partnership. Called the San Francisco Fiber Project, Farrell said in a keynote speech that he is determined to close the digital divide before he leaves office in June by providing a publicly-owned open access model for broadband internet with subsidies for low-income residents.
"If [closing the digital divide] alone is the only thing we get done, I will tell you my time in public office has been worthwhile," he said. And in the vein of idea-sharing and collaboration, Farrell said the initiative could not only "serve as a base layer of connectivity in our city, but also a replicable model for other cities in the United States and around the world."