The mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Graham Richard, kicked off the Killer App Expo with a keynote speech outlining how technology investments have improved the lives of Fort Wayne residents.
Starting in 2000, Fort Wayne began investing in a fiber to the home initiative. The challenge is to transform the town from the “Rustbelt economy” it was built on while serving the under-served in the community.
The city faces common challenges, such as decreasing revenue at the same time as demands for government services increase. Average annual wages have been training US metro areas, largely due to a loss of high paying lower-skill jobs.
A study by the city determined that access to broadband was ranked #2 behind quality workforce by companies deciding where to locate new offices. This confirmed that building a robust Internet infrastructure would be a wise investment for business recruiting and job growth.
Fort Wayne’s fiber to the premises initiative created 900 new jobs, bringing FiOS connections to 128,000 homes and businesses. “Real time interactivity . . . on steroids” is the power of high speed broadband. Face to face interaction over the Internet provides powerful high value collaborative applications.
The city has a demo green home / smart home with examples of what can be done to make your home both more energy efficient and wired. On the wired side, the home included IP controlled lighting and thermostats, allowing you to control the home’s temperature and lighting settings from work.
A Net Literacy campaign connects tech natives, including high school students, with seniors to teach them how to use a computer, email and the web. In return, seniors can mentor teens using their new-found tech skills.
The mayor and the city seem to be taking technology very seriously. They see it as not just a perk, but a must-have in order to compete in an ever flatter world.
Look for interviews later today from the Killer App Expo Conference on Technology Evangelist.