The last time I visited the Sand’s Casino, I took a good look around: You could tell some people were simply out for an evening’s entertainment, but others looked down on their luck and desperate. If they could just hit the jackpot…their life would change.

Allentown has a chance to hit the technology jackpot. The odds are high; I’ve heard that cities like Denver, CO, and Raleigh, NC are also in the game, but maybe good planning a little bit of luck will be on our side.

Applying for what, you ask? To be the winner of the Google Fiber RFI. According to their website, “Google is planning to build, and test ultra-high speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the country. We’ll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today wGoogle logoith 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections.

And oh yes, they’ll do that build out for free, just like they did in Mountain View, CA, where their headquarters are located.

The site goes on to say…

Our goal is to experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better, and faster for everyone. Here are some specific things that we have in mind:

  • Next generation apps: We want to see what developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds, whether it’s creating new bandwidth-intensive "killer apps" and services, or other uses we can’t yet imagine.
  • New deployment techniques: We’ll test new ways to build fiber networks; to help inform, and support deployments elsewhere, we’ll share key lessons learned with the world.
  • Openness and choice: We’ll operate an "open access" network, giving users the choice of multiple service providers. And consistent with our past advocacy, we’ll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory, and transparent way.

By the time you’re finished reading this post, if you’re not excited about the potential of what the Google Fiber RFI could mean to Allentown and the number of jobs it could create, you’re either not paying attention or you still use pay phones and fax machines.

But be not afraid, there is actually some real leadership being shown on this issue by City Councilman Michael Schlossberg and the Allentown Economic Development Corp. whose Asst. Director, Matt Tuerk is leading the charge to finish the RFI by the March 26 deadline. 

My sources tell me that everyone is coming to the table to make this happen, from the healthcare networks to major corporations and the arts community. I was pleased to have also been asked for my input, which I gave, gladly.

It sure is Allentown’s turn for a win. Maybe lady luck will be on our side for this spin of the  wheel. Of course, sometimes, you make your own luck.

7 thoughts on “Spinning the Google Wheel of Fortune”

  1. Looking To Escape

    It shouldn’t be a matter of luck, it should be a matter of sales ability.
    .
    The city can point out the local colleges and universities here, the central location of Allentown in the northeast and maybe the mayor can arrange to GIVE the Commerce Building land to Google which would beat low income housing plan the he has promoted. This would allow a purpose built building and it could also mean some of the employees might buy a sandwich from a nearby eatery in central Allentown.
    .
    The last line of salesmanship that should be used is we be broke and we need the jobs.

    1. Looking,

      Good to hear from you; thanks for “returning”.

      I’m impressed with the RFI team that is being put together…smart, young, optimistic. They “Get It” as to how important this could be for the future of Allentown. All your points are good ones and I know are being stressed in the proposal. The big ace-in-the-hole for us, aside from the fact that we’re broke and we need it, is our outstanding medical community, that requires huge amounts of bandwidth. All three of the major players; St. Luke’s, LVHN, and GSRH, have stepped up to help with the proposal.

  2. This is something totally up Mike Schlossberg and Matt Tuerk’s alley. Having volunteered with both of them in Allentown, they seem to be permenantly linked to some kind of high-speed gadget. It is the kind of thing that could really open a host of opportunities for Allentown. Imagine the story Google could tell: small rustbelt city struggling one so many fronts, completely transformed by technology, resulting in the emergence of one of NE US’s most dynamic research and development hubs. So exciting!

    1. I know, Geoff, it really is exciting and could be transformational. What amazes me is how many people don’t seem to “get it”. Even the media hasn’t picked up on the story…just amazing. I’m sure there’s a “public support” component to the RFI, or will be when Google makes its decision. We should have hundreds of people come out to Soldiers and Sailors Monument holding up signs that say “Welcome Google”, “We Love Google” and add that photo to the proposal. You gotta “sell ’em”

  3. Pam,

    Brings to mind the old alltecon day. Allentown was chosen as one of the 13 best communities in the nation by the Gore re-inventing government team. Gore is now a Google board member.

    All that I wrote in that proposal is still true. I even have a copy somewhere.

    Let someone know about it. I’ll stand by, but not hold my breath. If the City tries to accomplish this, it is a dead end already. It needs a community group, and AEDC is not that group.

    I am available for consultation if anyone wants to talk. This has been a part of my thinking for decades. Peter would be good, too. Seen him lately?

    1. Dick,

      I have deliberately not mentioned any of the city’s past technology efforts because truth-be-told it’s ancient history and irrelevant to where we are now. This Google RFI is a very unique opportunity and from what I’ve seen so far, the team that is working on it is doing a good job. I do agree with you about the “community component” and hope they will include some sort of citizen input in the proposal.

      Dick, for those of us who worked on Alltecon and the Digital District…we’ll always have Paris. 🙂

  4. Pam,

    I’m heartened to hear you say that we have a good team on this and I agree with the other respondents that both our medical and college communities contribute to our desirability as a Google community. Is there anything we average citizen’s can do?

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