On April 22nd, about a month after Baltimore submitted its response to Google’s Fiber for Communities request for information, Sam Zappas, Dave Troy, P.J. Glennon and I met for an outdoor lunch in Fells Point to discuss next steps.
We concluded our best strategy would be to raise Baltimore’s profile on Google’s radar to help our application stand apart. Sam said, “I’ve been thinking…. We should hold a symposium.”
Six short weeks later, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, the Greater Baltimore Committee, and the University of Baltimore, we produced:
- Were we selected? When do we find out?
- What IS high-speed fiber? Why do we want it?
- How will it impact business growth in Baltimore?
- How can all of Baltimore’s stakeholders leverage it?
- If Google doesn’t select us, how do we get fiber here anyway?
- Learn how other cities have already deployed high-speed fiber.
- Discover the benefits they are reaping right now.
- Come learn how Baltimore can do the same, and more.
Presenters included John Horrigan from the FCC, an author of the National Broadband Plan; two mayors teleconferenced in from cities that already deployed ultra high speed fiber; Dennis Lynch, formerly of Verizon, who had overseen most of Verizon’s FiOS deployments around the country; and our own panel of experts on Baltimore broadband, from JHU, UM Baltimore, Constellation Energy, and more.
Attendance was amazing! 200+ individuals from all walks. Foundations, universities, large corporations, small businesses, Comcast, Verizon, non-profits. Techies, state legislators, policy wonks, reporters, CIO’s. DBED Secretary Christian Johansson. University System of Maryland Chancellor Brit Kirwan. Senior Advisor to the President of Johns Hopkins, Aris Melissaratos.
At the end of the day, I announced the creation of the Baltimore Broadband Task Force, a Mayoral task force I’d been promoting at City Hall.
It’s vital to Baltimore’s future — to EVERY city’s future — to get the fastest connectivity possible to as many citizens as possible. Or else the world will pass us by, with innovation, opportunity, and job creation happening elsewhere.
City Hall bought in and put the Mayor’s imprimatur on the task force.
It was time for a vacation. We would kick things back in gear around Labor Day.