Monday, January 16, 2012

Why Did Google Choose Kansas City for Fiber Project?


The wait is nearly over….

Web pages loading, videos downloading, music buffering—it’s all coming to end. 

All coming to an end, thanks to the Google Fiber project implementation in Kansas City.  “Layman’s terms” here, what is the Google Fiber Project and what does it mean for me? Simply put, Google chose Kansas City (don’t ask why...just take it) to deploy the fastest internet speeds in the world.  These speeds will pretty much transform your entire web experience and quite possibly help transform new web technologies for the world! 

So why did this supposed tech titan called “Google” choose Kansas City over the 1,000+ communities that applied for this opportunity?  We’re known for cows and BBQ, and not anything tech related...right?  First off, let’s go with luck.  Google will officially state that Kansas City was chosen because “we could build efficiently, make an impact on the community, and develop working partnerships with the local government, utility and community organizations.”  All well and good, and I buy it to some degree…but I’m thinking that we were awarded this prize because it’s probably a little more cost effective here in the Midwest.

The internet speeds that Google will provide are fast...really fast.  Like, 100 times faster than you probably have in your home right now.  So what is this going to do for you, and how can it “transform” your web experience?  Ultimately, home users can download and watch “cute kitten” videos on YouTube much faster, or stream Netflix in full HD.  “Great…that really transforms my life…thanks Google (heavy sarcasm)!”   While Google does care about your media consumption, there is a bigger picture here.  First; profit.  Businesses are in business to make money, right?  Google will make a few bucks off of this deal in the long run, not based upon providing the actual internet service, but mainly based upon their business model of ad revenue (faster/better internet experience = longer time online = more ad revenues).  Second, Google is a very “forward thinking” enterprise with a number of philanthropic ventures aimed at the “greater good” of the world.  And this venture is partly about innovation.  Kansas City; this isn’t charity to us.  We are just lucky they chose us as the test bed.  Given this opportunity, Google also hopes to spur innovation for new web technologies. Who knows what ideas and/or technologies this network will generate. 

One might think that Google would take a more active role in the development of these ideas and technologies, but alas, it appears that they are simply supplying the network and leaving the rest up to us.  I dig this approach, as it lets us “little guys” in on the action.  I can help make what I want of this project without a big bureaucratic control leading a painstaking process.  So ultimately, the success of this project really depends on the creativity of the Kansas City residents.  Again, Google has given us a “tool”—its potential use and application are up to us.  Kansas City, it’s time to think broad…and BIG!  Sure, this tool may improve our current businesses and home web experience, but the rest of the world (myself included) is looking at this opportunity for us to potentially create entirely new industries and technologies!

“So, uh…if it’s up to me, where do I even begin?”  Thankfully, a few local groups have stepped up to lead Kansas City’s efforts, including the Brainzooming Group, the Social Media Club of Kansas City, Think Big Partners and the Kauffman Foundation.  Under their leadership, we have been given the opportunity to vet our ideas to the world, and even have the chance to win seed/prize money for these ventures.

Kansas City has a infinite number of ways to benefit from this opportunity, so let’s focus on how amazing this opportunity really is.  The Mayor of Kansas City, MO was recently quoted in saying, "As a result of this announcement, we have become the most attractive city on the planet to entrepreneurs."  Yep, that’s right.  Because of this opportunity, Kansas City should see a good influx of tech-savvy businesses enter into our market.  A little bit of a stretch here, but Kansas City has a golden opportunity to become the next Silicon Valley of the world.

Now that I’m done telling you about the who’s, how’s and what’s of this project, I’m going to give you my own personal commentary and plea for ideas.  Kansas City and fellow earthlings, we have the opportunity to truly revolutionize the world.  I know what you’re thinking: Revolutionize the world?  Are you kidding me!?  I am not.  Technology is behind everything we do today. Even your common “ditch digger’s” job is, in some way, impacted by technology.   With this gift from Google, we have the opportunity to develop new ideas and technologies that can truly change and influence the way we do business, interact with media content, exchange ideas, etc., etc., etc.  But it’s up to all of us to come up with these “game changing” ideas.

Many have already been hard at work, developing ideas for how to best utilize this amazing gift from Google.  I’ve read through a number of the early ideas and some have novel merits, but honestly, none have made me stop and say “that’s a game changer.”  I recently read that we are now down to 19 finalists in The Gigabit Challenge, down from the original 113 entrants.  “Wait…did you just say only 113 entrants….are you kidding me….that’s it?”  Yeah, I’m a little perplexed that given this significant opportunity that only 113 people submitted ideas.  We all use the internet every day, we all interact with various mediums of content on a daily basis….are you telling me that we only have 113 people in this world with a semblance of an idea about how we could potentially leverage this great gift?  Honestly, I’m a little vexed by this.  Where’s my idea, you ask?  Oh yeah…forgot to enter I guess.   Ok, I guess there are a few barriers to entry; legal documents, protecting your intellectual property, etc, etc….so I don’t blame everyone for not entering….it probably was a little daunting.

So I want to make it clear, I am NOT discounting or discrediting any of the ideas in the competition, but I’m honestly wondering if we’ll see some truly “wow” ideas after Google Fiber is up and running.  Personally, I’d be a little afraid of vetting my idea in front of the world only to have it potentially stolen by somebody with much deeper pockets than myself.  So maybe I shouldn’t be discouraged by the ideas given so far.  Maybe this is an amazing start…better than we could have hoped for.  Start small, think big…and let that little seed grow.

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1 comment:

  1. It's kind of like electricity. Who knew how it was going to be used besides Thomas Edison? And I think light bulbs were all he had ready to go for quite a while, and people didn't see the use of them. I have an awesome idea but I'm working on creating a mental health system where people who need services can pay for them without relying on government funding or continued charity support. This might be a first of its kind, and I still have some details to work out. I'll be ready for the second round....