Last month Google announced its intentions to pick some lucky community or communities to receive a trial fiber optic network that will be running 1 Gbps. While you’ve heard of the actions taken by cities like Topeka, KS which has renamed itself as Google, KS for the month, what about the small cities that are just working on its presentation to make to Google and working on rallying the community? Luckily I happen to live in such a place.
I live in a small town named Kirksville,MO, home to Truman State University and A.T. Still University (ATSU), and it would appear that the universities, along with the city itself, are going to try their best to jump through Google’s hoops. On Thursday evening I attended an informational meeting for the community where people in the community were given a better idea of what exactly a project like this could mean for the residents, business, healthcare and education.
Held in a classroom at Truman University, I had to be amused by the first thing I noticed was the presentation being projected on the screens was hosted in Google Apps. Might as well use the products if we’re going to get the companies attention. The majority of the meeting was led by Bryan Krusniak, director of information technology at A.T. Still University who walked us through what has already been done such as setting up an informational Web site, a Facebook Fan Page and videos were being shot to post to show Google how interested the citizens are in the project.
It was your standard informational type meeting, but the surprising bit of info to me was that Mr. Krusniak had received a call that morning from a newspaper reporter in Duluth, MN, another city trying for the project, that wanted to know what our city plans were to try to get Google to pick us. While Mr. Krusniak said that he had played coy with some of the finer points of our plans, how could we possibly be seen as a major threat, or even be known we were trying for it, when cities such as Seattle are also announcing their intentions?
Perhaps other cities, whether it be reporters or not, are trying to get information on our intentions is a good sign as we are seen as an actual threat? Google stressed in its initial announcement that it was interested in how speeds such as this could be used in healthcare applications, and having a parent school for an entire style of medicine might be our ace in the hole.
After the meeting was breaking up, I spoke briefly with Mr. Krusniak about the project, and just how seriously he felt everyone was taking this. He told me that our City Council was now fully behind it, and the president of ATSU was extremely excited about it. “When we first talked about it, I was told ‘run, do not walk to work on getting this for us,'” said Mr. Krusniak.
Do we have a shot? Who knows. I have lived in this town since 1979, and I can say I have seen our city fracture many times over something Truman wants, but the city was against and vice versa. I have never seen all three major entities in this city agree on anything, and seeing the city council, ATSU and Truman agree on anything makes me actually have some hope that we might actually get somewhere with this.
However, if we are this organized and driven, how many other cities are coming together as never before?