Why Voters Need to Vote for City of Boulder Ballot Item 2c
NOTE: We received a lengthy comment opposing City Ballot Item 2C, very similar to comments made regarding a Boulder Daily Camera article on the issue. Although the Camera has endorsed passing Item 2C, a full discussion can be viewed here.
A YES vote on City of Boulder Ballot Item 2C should be a no-brainer. 2c asks Boulder voters “to affirm the city’s right to provide certain telecommunications services” – namely Internet. But just in case you’re not convinced, we’d like to take a moment to emphasize the many potential benefits to our economy and our society, and to clarify why it is indispensable to maintaining Boulder’s position as a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Internet is a “foundational” technology. It changes the way we do business and conduct our everyday lives, much as wireless telecommunications and computing did and continue to do. And it has the potential to enhance our lives immeasurably. As examples,
- The growth of cloud computing as a business tool. As a recent Economist Intelligence Unit report indicated, the disruptive impact of cloud computing has just begun. Contributors noted that the cloud could help flatten organizational hierarchies, enhance customer value and control, and even benefit the environment, among other factors.
- Increasing use of “Big Data.” Big Data—and its associated strategies such as “business intelligence”—provide immense opportunities for all kinds of organizations. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) outlined the explosive growth of the “big data ecosystem” of information and communications technologies along with knowledge-based capital investment. It further outlined how big data could benefit analytics across the whole economy, including scientific discovery, healthcare, governance, and entrepreneurship.
- Driving innovation and resilience. OECD held a Global Forum on the Knowledge Economy earlier this month in Tokyo, with a focus on “data-driven innovation for a resilient society.” Among the highlights: “…participants acknowledged [the] high value of big data in spurring economic growth or solving various social challenges, and discussed policy options to promote the use of big data…”
Using the tremendous tools offered by the Internet through cloud computing and big data, for example, can yield huge potential gains for business and for society, so it stands to reason that the more efficiently and effectively we can access those tools, the better.
As more communities invest in ultra-fast Internet, it will become a sine qua non for success as a center of innovation. More and more communities are looking into or deploying gigabit-speed connectivity for a reason: it promotes economic growth. A recent report by Gig.U, a consortium of leading universities (including CU-Boulder), concluded, “Whatever one’s time horizon, the relationship between universities, cities, and economic growth is compelling. With value creation in the economy becoming even more dependent on the collection, storage, analysis and dissemination of information, we should expect it to become even more so.” The same report provided a summary of initiatives across the nation to implement gigabit-speed systems through a variety of delivery models, including public, private sector ISPs (Internet Service Providers), and public-private partnerships.
If Boulder cannot follow suit, it will be left behind in the important march to up-level Internet connectivity and will find it hard to continue its claim as a capital of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Ballot Item 2c allows Boulder to jump aboard a train that is already leaving the station. The City has nearly 100 miles of Internet infrastructure in the ground and paid for, but much of it is unused, locked up by a 2005 state law that stifles competition. 2c does not specify a particular delivery model—but it is the only way to unlock the door to exploring options. As a key partner in the YES on 2c campaign, the Boulder Chamber will remain engaged in the exploration process that will follow if voters approve, and it will focus on criteria for selecting and deploying an option that:
- Stimulates competition to drive the best solutions.
- Deploys community-wide access to ultra-fast connectivity on a timely basis.
- Is affordable to a wide variety of organizations and individuals.
- Is based on robust technology that will scale to leverage evolving speeds and other benefits.
We don’t have to fall behind while other communities tout their gigabit-speed Internet. Let’s explore and see what is possible – vote yes on 2c for Boulder!