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Information Technology – a catalyst for the convergence May 17, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Technology.
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A swing through the links in the side column revealed another great source of information as we look at different ways to align workforce and economic development. OneCleveland (affiliated with RealNEO, I gather) has worked with Intel to become a “Worldwide Digital Community” – a special designation for communities whose governments are on the bleeding edge of IT deployment for the benefit of their citizens. Intel’s site offers a brief description of the Digital Community:

Imagine a city where government services can be delivered anytime, anywhere and businesses and citizens are totally connected.

A growing number of city and government leaders are implementing eGovernment services using innovative technology to enhance safety and security, citizen satisfaction, and a greater return on tax revenues. Opportunities offered by technology include an integrated infrastructure or ‘fabric’ for government services, delivered through both broadband wired and wireless information and communications technologies. These core technologies fundamentally transform the way citizens live and work, and serve as the foundation for the Intel vision of the digital community.

While this is a government-centric program (looks to me like Intel’s government sales teams are using this concept to build business…not that there’s a thing wrong with that), it also is a terrific tool for a community to broadcast its digital vision to its constituents and prospective residents. The Intel brand on this designation could be perceived as a techological “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.”

It’s been done before. Right here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Mayor Graham Richard has been hard at work using the $75+ million Verizon investment in bringing fiber-optics to every residence and business in Fort Wayne as a means to promote the community on the national level and spur an alignment of our local education and workforce capacities with the realities of a flat world. (For a great, detailed investigation of municipal broadband, check out this May 2005 edition of Broadband Properties Magazine.) Attaching the Verizon brand name (and their investment!) to this project adds even more credibility to the Mayor’s words.

I saw it with my own eyes when the Mayor spoke at the prior-referenced SATS seminar…the out-of-town visitors were floored with the ideas of progressive government action and innovation, right here in northeast Indiana.

Broadband – or becoming a Digital Community – should be looked at as a catalyst. It doesn’t make economic development happen. It doesn’t train our workforce. But it changes paradigms. It forces the world to look at these communities differently. It sends a message to our workforce and educators/trainers that they need to prepare/retrain our people to function in this new, digital world.

What other catalysts may spur an alignment of workforce and economic development? Is it just information technology, or are there other possibilities?

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