Monthly Archives: March 2010

3 Ideas For Google Gigabit In Philadelphia For Community Development

is installing
a gigabit network in selected cities in the U.S. to
change the way communities connect and use technology. What exactly does
that mean?

As we in Philadelphia have been preparing our response, all we are sure of is that it that means SUPER
FAST connections
between computers, people, and businesses!
We need to show Google that Philly will do more with gigabit than any
other city. That means we need to show off you and your ideas. How would
you use gigabit to change Philadelphia – and the world?

The biggest challenge for me and others with this opportunity is in boiling down the thousands of ideas (some hair-brained, some less so) into tangible, clear concepts that can be executed.

I absolutely love the discussion that is going on, am excited at the gauntlet thrown down by Philly Startup Leaders, which is not up to $10,000, am in awe of the speed of developers and evangelists driven by Indy Hall in activating the Gigabit Philly and happy that leaders like Allan Frank, Philadelphia CTO and Bill Greene, City Councilman are deeply involved in this effort.

While I have been fortunate to be a part of the overall discussions and response preparation, I will also be throwing an idea into the Philly Startup Leaders contest…I just need to hone my thoughts.  Regardless of that, I do hope that this ultra high-speed can provide at least a basis for the following 3 ideas as they go right to the heart of community and economic development.


Community-Enabled Education

Gigabit bandwidth with a real-time shared content and
information environment would allow us to revolutionize the way that we
educated our children and young adults.  By connecting and leveraging the
resources, lectures, images, discussions and documents of the public and
private sector including our libraries, corporate professionals, university
scholars and community leaders we can make them on-demand for the benefit of
our teachers and their students.

 With more resources, more targeted areas of influence
for our children, we can keep them more engaged and excited about new lessons,
their immediate community and the broader world outside of the city so they are
the best prepared, most enlightened and most inspired to enter higher education
and the workforce.

With only very low % of Philadelphia students attending higher education and a drop-out rate near 50%, providing our teachers with additional resources and our students with greater exposure to real-world access points can have a tangible impact on those numbers.  That means our students would graduate better prepared and more informed about the opportunities for them in the city and beyond.


Collaboration & Commerce

Every business, whether a Fortune 500 enterprise or
corner store, must make, market, sell and support products in order to
succeed.  With Gigabit bandwidth, companies have the ability to reach more
customers for less cost and more transparency, but they can serve them with
more flexibility for the greatest satisfaction.  That all leads to more
commerce and revenue, which attracts more businesses and encourages more

 On the demand side, a technology base with gigabit
access allows companies that seek to be the most innovative and introduce the
best products to move to the area.  That, in turn, both attracts the most
creative, entrepreneurial and active people to the area and encourages the
wealth of students in the rich university community to stay in Philadelphia
with creative and economic engagement in their hearts and minds.

 The flow of information and content generates that
demand and supply benefit for a range of industries including, to name a few,
advertising, communications, technology, design, film, civic associations,
performing arts, medicine, green technologies and education.  We can
increase the connection & collaboration between the creativity found in
arts and technology and the innovative thinking necessary in all aspects of
Philadelphia life.

Most importantly, with a rich, ubiquitous bandwidth
utility for all to use, both small startups and large enterprises can
contribute to the wide wealth of innovation to drive Digital Philadelphia

 3.     Combining Public Service and Customer

The most important asset that Gigabit bandwidth
provides is Communication. With instantaneous communication across web and
mobile devices, citizens of Philadelphia can interact well beyond their
geographic boundaries and truly work with each other to solve the most pressing
issues and challenges of their neighborhoods and greater city community.

level of interaction and communication includes the City administration itself,
who can truly become partners in real-time with the multitude of passionate
citizens and organizations that support the city.

 With open, real-time access to information, data and
content in a shared environment that gigabit access supports, the relationship
between the city leaders and the citizens can advance to a rich new
level.  The government would not need to solve all problems, but could be
a guide and leader in the creation and support of a collaborative service
environment where the citizens can create the solutions best suited to their
community and their economic desires.

The role of technology is critical
in supporting public service and translating that output to the customer
service that is so critical to a successful city. For example, it:

Reduces the separation between leaders &

Allows us to do much more for much less

Supports self-organization

Allows more people to directly input and
positively affect a greater number of people

Provides social applications, digital media and
communication tools that are often free and continuously updated and improved
for the community

Because creativity moves fastest
within pockets and through communities, then outward; a collaborative
supported by instantaneous communication and content sharing allows the
of action to match the speed of ideas.  Sharing that energy and action
then push innovation and implementation to be as fast as the community
wants it
to be, with the entire City standing to benefit.


City government hasn’t taken the gamble
we need. So we will.
We’re wagering every dollar we have — all $5,000 of it.

We have been saying for years now that Philadelphia
has the best grassroots tech and creative community in the world. Now
it’s time to make that obvious to everyone else.

has created a national competition among cities for the
opportunity to have ultra-high bandwidth gigabit connectivity installed
in portions of the winning city. This is part of a massive social and
technological experiment designed to accelerate worldwide broadband

The Google Gigabit competition ends in just eight days, on March 26,

Philly’s grassroots communities have thrown our hat in the
ring with Gigabit
, a website spearheaded by Alex Hillman
and Branimir
and built by members of Philly Startup
, Indy Hall
and a band of dedicated individuals. Among those individuals are City
Councilman Bill Green and City Chief Technology Officer Allan Frank.

But that’s not enough. Not nearly.

Google will never choose a city where the government and the broader
community doesn’t do something dramatic. We need to show that all of us
can work together and dedicate ourselves to making this experiment an
over-the-top success for Google.

Because as vague as Google has been with their selection criteria, we know this much: they want
the winning city to use gigabit in a way that becomes the envy of the
world. They want an example city that inspires other cities and towns
to drastically accelerate ultra-high bandwidth adoption.

What has the city of Philadelphia done so far? Essentially
Let’s not be too surprised. Government in these cases
can do little. The imagination and energy is going to have to come
from the grassroots. It’s time for us to take the lead.

That’s why we’re taking matters into our own hands.

Philly Startup Leaders is investing every last dollar that’s not
allocated to our upcoming Entrepreneur
event to seed a massive community-funded prize
for the best ultra-high bandwidth idea submitted to Gigabit Philly.

That’s $5,000. We’re all-in.

This money is everything we have saved in our organization’s
piggybank for the last two and a half years. Yes, we know that the city
has been dealing with an awful budget crisis. Yes, we know that most of the
major businesses, NGOs and non-profits have been suffering too. And
yes, we know that many of our startups are running on empty.

But that doesn’t make us helpless. Remember, we are a do-it-yourself city.

Philly Startup Leaders is only the spark. Our money
is intended to jolt the great people of Philadelphia into action. We
are counting on our friends in the grassroots community and the
Philadelphia establishment to pour their money on top of ours, dwarfing
our $5,000 contribution. Together, will make the prize fund so
broad-based and substantial that people will hear about it all over the

We are counting on more than money. We are counting
on the power of the community to generate hundreds if not thousands of
great ideas that demonstrate that this city has the ingenuity and
determination to lead the world into a new gigabit era.

Eight days is a challenge for sure. We’ll need to work at gigabit
speed ourselves to collect both the prize money and the ideas that can
stun and surprise us all.

Just to show that Philly truly is the city of brotherly
love, anyone in the world can win the prize.
Even from a
competitive city. Innovation is not about one city versus another. It’s
about making progress together, and so when we judge the submissions,
we will be impartial. We promise.

That said, all ideas must be submitted to Gigabit Philly.
We won’t review submissions anywhere else.

Movements don’t go anywhere without the courage of the first followers. Thanks so much to
Neil Kleinman for commiting $1,000 from the University of the Arts’ Corzo
Center for the Creative Economy
, and also to City Councilman Bill
Green and City CTO Allan Frank for each committing $500 of their own

That’s $7,000 already. Now let’s add some zeros to that. We can do
this together, one donation at a time.

To contribute to the prize, make a written commitment in the
comments section below this post, including the dollar amount.
be sure to email us your contact information to
so we can reach you (please include your phone number).

Because time is short, we will formalize this commitment process in
the coming days with the help of the broader Philadelphia community. We
will also nail down the selection criteria.

Now for the other critical call to action: Make some noise.
If you care about the future of Philadelphia, or about the future of
broadband technology more broadly, share your enthusiasm with the world.

Use every medium at your disposal and all the creativity you can
muster. On Twitter, use #GigabitPhilly.

We can do this Philadelphia. We will do this.

Act, React or Interact?

I had the great pleasure today to meet and have lunch with
an amazingly talented group of people here in Philadelphia around the topic of ‘Missioneurship’.  While the details of the definition and community objectives will be
worked out in time, the core value system is to combine the mission-oriented
objectives of the ‘non-profit’ world with the business sustainability practices
of the ‘for-profit’ world, especially for new ventures, groups, organizations
and initiatives.

While this lunch was just the beginning, a core theme came
out for me…action.  Around the table we
all had varying degrees of experience with, or within, the non-profit or
for-profit sectors.  But the common
thread was that we all were people who wanted to drive forward, to act.

That led me to ponder the role of action and its
counterparts, ‘reaction’ and ‘interaction’.
When is the right time for each and what are the benefits of each at
those given times?

I fully admit I do not have a clear answer, but I do believe
the question is an important one for any person who must both work with and
rely on people to move a program, initiative or organization forward.  For me, the question forms another cog in the
thought process for my own activities.

ActionAct-React-Interact Image 3-8-10

Pro: It is certainly good to move
forward; to have an idea and put it into the ‘market’ for scrutiny, praise so
that it can add to the positive forces of the world.

Con: If the action is bourne out of a vacuum
or without thought to its direct or indirect effects on others, it can be
shortsighted and the immediate benefit may be outweighed by long-term costs.


Your actions are certainly in context, that is they are not bourne out
of thin air and have a direct impact on something that is in the market or zeitgeist

You risk the loss of individuality essential to ensure the idea, the
action, is one that is not simply a restatement of another’s thought but truly
a new, complementary or revolutionary concept of your own.


Pro:  By
absorbing the thoughts, beliefs, ideas and counterpoints that exist, you
certainly create a well-rounded process to move forward.

Sometimes too much thought can lead to inertia and nothing gets done…there
is no ‘action’.

All three points of the world of ‘action’ have
importance, I believe, in all decisions.
I guess it is a matter of what is the right mix for any given decision.