Government Technology, June 14, 2012
A new U.S. initiative could light a fire under the country’s brightest app developers. Called the US Ignite Partnership, the public-private effort between the federal government, cities, universities, broadband providers and ultimately, citizens, seeks development of approximately 60 next-generation applications over the next five years that capitalize on the untapped potential of high-speed broadband networks.
Launched on June 14, the partnership will bring work to 25 cities throughout the U.S. The goal is to combine the power of municipalities, universities, vendors and the federal government to create a nationwide high-speed broadband test bed to work on new applications centered on six high-priority areas — education and workforce development, advanced manufacturing, health, transportation, public safety and clean energy.
Christopher Mitchell, director of the Telecommunications as Commons Initiative of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and a national expert on community broadband effort, was supportive of US Ignite, but cautioned that in order to develop next-gen apps to the highest potential, broadband capability must be expanded.
In an email to Government Technology on June 13, Mitchell said only four communities in the U.S. have complete citywide access to gigabit connections for anyone at any time. Those cities are Bristol, Va.; Morristown, Tenn.; Lafayette, La.; and Chattanooga, Tenn.
The latter two communities have already agreed to be partners with NSF in US Ignite. Mitchell said the initiative will give additional exposure to those cities and others pursuing high-speed broadband infrastructure.
“I am excited about US Ignite because I think it’ll unleash the power of the networks communities are building which are so much higher-capacity than anything the private carriers are doing,” Mitchell said in an interview with Government Technology. “You have the best networks in the nation built by communities. But they alone don’t have the capacity to develop these next-gen applications, and US Ignite can fill that role.”