KC must make the most of Google Fiber
The Kansas City Star
Google Fiber’s super-fast Internet speed is cutting edge. The question on both sides of the state line is this: How can this speed create a cutting edge reputation for this area?
It will require solid plans and coordination, after it’s installed in dozens of neighborhoods. The Kansas City region has a “very fleeting advantage” over other parts of the country where high-speed fiber could be installed in the next few years, says Mike Burke, co-chairman of the Mayors’ Bistate Innovation Team.
Their message: Get it right, and companies, jobs, conventions and residents could flock here.
Get it wrong, and — as Mayor Sly James indicated — Kansas Citians will be kicking themselves for blowing a golden opportunity.
The bistate team has spent months working on sensible suggestions.
Local schools and hospitals are two of the largest institutional forces that need to work on ways to benefit — from delivering everything from instructional lessons to medical records with high-speed fiber. And school districts, universities and sprawling medical institutions are going to have to knock down the silos that exist within their organizations, Burke warned, to take full advantage of the new technology. That means welcoming the use of electronic devices as early as pre-K classes, said the other co-chairman, Ray Daniels, former Kansas City, Kan., School District superintendent.
City government officials in Kansas City and Kansas City, Kan., must be leaders in showing how high-speed Internet can improve the basic services they deliver to residents. Shred bureaucracy and get business permits out the door faster, for example. Or help citizens’ crime-fighting efforts and reporting code violators.
The digital divide must continue to receive attention. That means carving out plans and raising funds to get high-speed service into homes and public facilities such as libraries that are in the urban cores of both cities.
The bistate team’s playbook doesn’t contain all the answers. Some uses of Google Fiber will spring from the hands of tech-savvy users, leading to new products and services that could be real moneymakers.
What Burke and his team want is for that money to be made here — and for new and better educational and medical services to be provided here — in the Kansas City area.