Why Google should pick Baltimore

Our view: City offers ideal testing ground for ultra-high-speed Internet access

March 15, 2010

Baltimore might not be willing to follow the lead of Topeka, Kan., and rename itself Google for a month to catch the attention of the search engine giant, but there are plenty of reasons why Charm City would be the ideal place for the company's ultra-high-speed Internet pilot project.

Baltimore has an active, engaged tech community pushing hard for the project, but it is at a stage in its development that the attraction of super-speed Internet access could really make a difference. The attraction of such stellar Web infrastructure could quickly push Baltimore's tech community beyond a critical mass and truly transform the region's economy.

Second, Baltimore offers the opportunity to demonstrate broader applications for the Web of the future, principally at our outstanding medical institutions. Johns Hopkins Hospital would be a great place to showcase the potential for transferring huge amounts of data in real time for 3-D medical imaging and other applications.

Third, Baltimore is a city with highly concentrated poverty but also a new sense of momentum in the schools. Google's support could go a long way toward bridging the digital divide and exposing students to the possibilities that could be opened to them through education.

Fourth, city and state officials are fully committed to making this happen. Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake just appointed a "Google czar" to head up the city's application, Tom Loveland, chief executive of the tech company Mind Over Machines. The mayor sees the project as a means of advancing both economic development and social justice and is ready to do what it takes to allow Google to quickly roll out its project. Mr. Loveland, who successfully led the effort to reverse a computer services tax two years ago, has the experience necessary to bridge the gap between the government and tech communities and get things done.

And finally, we're close to Washington. For the same reason that Baltimore is often the site for various federal pilot projects, it would be an ideal location for Google. The people who will make decisions that could affect the company's ability to broaden this effort across the nation would be less than an hour's car ride away from being able to see it in action. Google notes in its description of the project that it's been lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to consider new ideas for Internet access as it develops a national broadband plan, and having a community with the Web of the future right up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway would surely be an effective means of persuasion.

There's no telling what innovation could be fostered by Internet connections that are as much as 100 times faster than what most people experience now, but Baltimore is poised to take full advantage of it. We could help Google show what's possible, and Google could help transform our community.

Another good reason for Google to pick Baltimore is that we are a good medium-sized city. Choosing Baltimore would help Google test its product in a large urban area that isn't too overwhelming like perhaps New York or even Philadelphia might be.

Sean Tully

I am SUPER EXCITED regarding this endeavor. The political, educational, and business community all seem fired up to lend support and ideas.

Go B'More!!!

NotableM

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