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CHARLOTTE –Segra, a fiber infrastructure communications provider based in Charlotte, in conjunction with US Ignite, a non-profit organization seeking to accelerate the smart city movement, announce the selection of Greensboro, NC as a Smart Gigabit Community, a program established by the National Science Foundation.
US Ignite is designed to promote US leadership in developing applications and services for ultra-fast broadband networks and creating jobs that benefit from those networks. It fosters the creation of novel applications and digital experiences that have the potential to transform areas including healthcare, education and job skills training, public safety, energy, and advanced manufacturing. The Greensboro initiative is made possible by a three-year grant from Segra, one of the largest independent fiber networks in the Eastern US. It marks the first smart cities collaboration between US Ignite and Segra.
A Greensboro Ignite steering group consisting of approximately ten members will be formed, with members actively engaged and motivated to accelerate Greensboro’s innovation activities. Members will be leaders from across Greensboro’s public, private, and philanthropic sectors and will identify and prioritize resources needed to complete a detailed work plan to enhance community-wide innovation. The steering group will map out a more tightly defined innovation district, with strong support from local stakeholders, and will identify key regional core capabilities as pillars of the innovation district.
Following the confirmation of targeted local core capabilities, the members of the steering group will assess current network challenges and opportunities with a goal of expanding local internet access. In addition, the group will create a pilot implementation plan to address challenges—including privacy, cost, placement, and coverage—and expand internet options for underserved areas of Greensboro.
“This partnership will help advance Greensboro’s Smart City initiatives, which focus on expanding broadband and connectivity, promoting innovation and technology-based entrepreneurship,” said Jane Nickles, the City of Greensboro’s chief information officer. “Through this partnership, we will have access to resources that will enable us to accelerate our efforts to expand high-speed internet options and put a spotlight on innovation in Greensboro.”
Nickles and other members the City of Greensboro’s Information Technology Department will attend meetings with all US Ignite partners and mentor networks to share updates, challenges, successes, and plans for future collaboration. US Ignite will gather information and pass opportunities to Greensboro stakeholders, all of which will help generate national publicity for Greensboro and identify federal grant opportunities that align with Smart Greensboro partnership initiatives.
US Ignite launched the Smart Gigabit Communities network with the National Science Foundation in 2015, and today the project includes 35 member communities working both individually and collaboratively to advance connectivity and new smart city applications. Partner communities leverage broadband and IoT networks to develop innovative new services, drive local job growth, and improve quality of life. Through the US Ignite ecosystem, communities gain access to shared technologies and best practices, as well as new funding and partnership opportunities.
“We are thrilled to welcome Segra and the City of Greensboro to our Smart Gigabit Communities program as we continue to develop new opportunities for public-private collaboration,” said William Wallace, Chairman of US Ignite. “We strongly support the Innovation District’s mission of developing Greensboro into an environment that fosters job growth, economic development, and learning and inspiration by bringing innovative people and organizations together, and we are confident they will be the catalyst for many exciting technological developments in Greensboro.”
“Partnering with US Ignite to foster Greensboro as a Smart Gigabit Community is a wonderful opportunity for Segra,” said Timothy Biltz, Chief Executive Officer of Segra. “Segra has a strong presence and reputation as the region’s leading gigabit network infrastructure and looks forward to providing new and innovative connectivity options that are key to Greensboro’s growth as a smart city. Our technology expertise, combined with the dedication and resources of the City of Greensboro and other local partners, will create and sustain a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem designed to address challenges in Greensboro’s core capability areas.”