Here are US Ignite’s first 15 smart communities

At the Smart Cities Innovation Summit this month in Austin, public-benefit dev firm US Ignite called out the 15 communities participating in their Smart Gigabit Cities Program — designed to build public services that could be shared with other cities in the program.

The 15 communities include: Austin, TX; Cleveland, OH; Burlington, VT; Chattanooga, TN; Flint, MI; Madison, WI; Richardson, TX; Kansas City, MO; North Carolina Next Generation Network; and Utah Wasatch Front Cities.

Each of these communities will implement a low-latency and ultra-fast network with locavore — local or edge cloud –computing and storage capabilities.

US Ignite is a non-profit that fosters the creation of next-generation internet applications that provide transformative public benefit.  They were awarded a $6 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation in Sept. 2015 specifically for this program and plan to assist these communities through education and resources for funding and deployment.

Since the information economy is only as strong as the infrastructure it’s built on — and the US is painfully behind the rest of the world in speed and price when it comes to affordable high-speed internet — the effort has a big potential upside.

It’s incredibly expensive for ISP startups to build out new fiber networks.  With this lack of competition, major telecommunications companies who monopolize the industry have no incentive to make the switch either.

Not only a broader potential economic growth at stake, but social equality as “…too many of our citizens are stuck in digital darkness, without the primary tool needed for seamless communications for health care, education, civic participation, and professional advancement,” FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said in a 2015 speech supporting subsidizing the internet for the poor.

Access to affordable high-speed internet is necessary for economic well-being and a critical component to leveling the socio-economic playing field,  thus government officials are particularly interested in finding ways to support faster, more affordable internet solutions.

Program brings smart city efforts to smaller communities

So cue the Smart Gigabit Cities Program, including communities that US Ignite says have “made a significant commitment toward leveraging next-generation smart city and Internet technologies to keep pace with the world’s rapidly changing technology and economy,” according to a U.S. Ignite news release.

Private sector partners are also along for the initiative, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Juniper, Mozilla, internet2, and Viavi Solutions.

“HP is delighted to not only be part of the vision and sponsorship, but as the fabric for the next phase of rolls out in the first 15 cities.” said Rob Courtney, HPE’s general manager for public sector. “This infrastructure will allow the US Ignite vision to become a reality for the new generation of applications running on the next generation Internet.”

“This program is a pivotal moment for Smart Community application development,” Glenn Ricart, co-founder and CTO of US Ignite. “The benefits of each community’s program will be amplified by this network of Smart Gigabit Communities. It’s innovation in a 15-community consortium where each community’s contribution is multiplied by 15, so we look forward to working with each team in each community on their exciting projects.” he added.

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