Next on the agenda was a panel of local business leaders discussing what a Gigabit Internet infrastructure means for Charlotte. Panelists were:
Mary Ellen Player - Google Fiber
Valerie Truesdale – CMS
Eric Freedman - Knight School at Queens
Fred Boucherie - Good Entertainment
Mary Ellen was quickly put on the spot to answer when Google Fiber will be available in Charlotte. With nearly 4000 miles of fiber to install, the construction efforts will take a long time. She said that while they are going as fast as they can, Charlotte is about a year away. Google Fiber chose Charlotte for a lot of reasons, including our fast growth and our efforts to transform our community. In Kansas City Google Fiber has witnessed a startup community that came out of nowhere, with a group of fiber homes KC Startup Village, and a startup commercialization program Digital Sandbox KC. Mary Ellen told us that Kansas City is now referred to as Silicon Prairie!
Valerie described the mission CMS created in 2012 to create the 21st Century Learning Environment. It was a high goal at the time as none of the schools were fully wireless, the teachers were nor given laptops, there was no guest network, and the school computers were running XP. Now the schools have wireless and every student in grades 5-9 have access to a Chromebook. “Digital Learning is a revolution” explained Valerie. In 2015 home Internet is “as essential as lights, water, and other basic utilities”. Increasing student engagement, and extending learning time beyond the school day are key CMS objectives.
Eric remarked that it’s one thing to consume access, but it’s another to be truly systems literate and have a deep understanding of the tools. Teaching students to code, design, tell stories, and understand value based criteria that are embedded into the architecture of the information system is key. “We are seeing an alignment of work, play, and learning” Eric explained, which is “dependent on high speed Internet”. Our opportunity is to turn technology on its head and playfully engage the general public. Creativity and experimentation paves the way for leveraging technologies like Gigabit Internet.
Fred described how the Internet not only has transformed the distribution side of the film business, but also on the production side since everything is file based. It is now possible to develop cloud based processes and IP workflows that could not be done before. The lack of latency and the increased speed of Gigabit is critical. “Our business has been transformed” said Fred. And it’s not just film, but online gaming as well. Gigabit “allows and enables a whole economy around game playing” remarked Fred. He compared high speed Internet with freeways, and how businesses will gravitate to the opportunity. And it doesn’t hurt in attracting talent to the area either!