Cable Tech

It's Leadership, Stupid

5:15 PM -- When the Intelligent Community Forum issued its list of "Smart21 Communities of 2011," the first phase of its competition for the Intelligent Community of the Year 2011, six US cities made the list.

That, in and of itself, is a surprise. But the names of the six may also be surprising: Chattanooga, Tenn.; Dakota County, Minn.; Danville, Va.; Dublin, Ohio; the northeast Ohio region; and Riverside, Calif.

These are the US cities that will judged alongside international municipalities including Shanghai, Quebec City, and Birmingham, the UK's second-largest city after London.

To be fair, the list also includes Sopron, Hungary; Issy-les-Moulineaux, France; and Stratford, Ontario -- all communities with populations well under 100,000.

But all of the US nominees are either smaller cities -- under 50,000 in population -- or combinations of urban and rural environments. Chattanooga is nominated because of the fiber-to-the-home network built by its publicly owned utility, EPB, to rural areas as well as urban areas, and while Northeast Ohio includes cities such as Cleveland and Akron, it covers 24 counties including rural areas and areas depressed by de-industrialization. (See Chattanooga Rocks 1-Gig FTTH Service)

Money was invested in each city, to be sure, but the sources of that funding vary, to include private money, commercial carrier investments, local bonds, federal broadband stimulus money, and various grants. None of these cities are what you would call exclusive, upscale areas, however, so money isn't the real issue here.

What these six have in common is local leaders, either elected or volunteer, who not only had the vision required to realize what broadband connections and investment in communications technology could mean but also the intestinal fortitude to see that vision through.

So if anything, I think this list proves that leadership is what counts and that any community can be "intelligent" if it chooses.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

Christopher Mitchell 12/5/2012 | 4:19:03 PM
re: It's Leadership, Stupid

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I don't know about Dublin, Ohio, offhand, but the other US communities on the list have taken some form of responsibility for&nbsp;building&nbsp;their own broadband networks when private carriers wouldn't.

You mentioned EPB in Chattanooga. &nbsp;Danville has built a fiber network for local businesses and plans to expand it to residents eventually. &nbsp;Riverside took over an AT&amp;T failed wireless network. &nbsp;NE Ohio has the famous OneCommunity. &nbsp;Dakota County was a pioneer for county-owned fiber and conduit investments.

It isn't a coincidence that our best communities are the ones that took initiative and recognized the private sector will not invest the needed amount in broadband infrastructure.


spc_markl 12/5/2012 | 4:19:02 PM
re: It's Leadership, Stupid


I agree with you on the extreme importance of a leader with a vision, but money is always a big issue.

Mark Lutkowitz, Telecom Pragmatics

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