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06/25/2003 - Spokane Nominated for Intelligent Community of the Year

Playing “Beat the Clock”, a group of hardworking public and private sector workers put together a nomination for Spokane for ‘Intelligent Community of the Year’. The World Teleport Association, whose headquarters is at 55 Broad Street in New York City, sponsors the Intelligent Community Award. The World Teleport Association selects seven ‘Intelligent Community’ finalists, then, ultimately, the top community.

Criteria for the ‘Intelligent Community’ require much more than just plenty of broadband, high-speed connectivity. The award is for the community with a documented strategy for creating a Digital Age economy that uses information and communications technology -- with an emphasis on broadband over narrowband applications. The strategy must lead to attracting leading-edge businesses, stimulate job creation, generate economic growth, and improve the delivery of government services. Further, the community must demonstrate that its strategy has produced measurable results in one or more of the following areas:
Attracting new businesses to the community, or stimulating their formation
Training programs to equip citizens with knowledge-worker skills
New job creation
New infrastructure (teleports, competitive telecommunications)
Improvement in the delivery of government and public services such as education, administration, law enforcement or citizen participation
Spokane has achieved measurable results in all of these areas, and documentation was submitted to the judges to prove it.

Because time was short, award documentation focused on the City of Spokane, and its background and major features. The documentation included the reason for developing the Intelligent City Strategy, what that strategy was, and the measureable results.

Spokane’s ‘Intelligent City’ strategy has been documented back to the beginning of SIRTI and the Riverpoint Campus in 1994. Implementation of the strategy has not been fast or smooth. The strategy-forming group, the SIRTI Telecommunications Committee, (STC) included all of Spokane’s colleges and universities, representatives from the K-12 system, the libraries, and connectivity providers. Avista (then Washington Water Power) and Avista Fiber were key players, but so were other fiber optic connectivity companies like Time Warner, XO Communications, Qwest, and Electric Lightwave. (All had different names in 1994). The STC formulated a plan to encourage Spokane’s many service industries to expand their activities over fiber.

Other innovators were also active in 1994. The Inland Northwest Community Access Network (TINCAN) first formed to help bridge the digital divide -- long before anyone ever coined the term. Northwest Health Services was incorporated that year. Spokane School District 81 had completed a technology study and had implemented a strategic plan promoting efficiency. Network designers at WWP began the design of an optical fiber network for the Spokane Metropolitan area.

The next big year was 1997 when the connectivity utilities dug up the streets and laid the optical fiber. That was the same year that the downtown Spokane economic development initiative, Terabyte Triangle, began. The Fernwell Building was the first downtown property to offer optical fiber connectivity as a tenant amenity. Many downtown property owners have followed this example, allowing the creation of connectivity dependent businesses in downtown Spokane. The connectivity in the Holley Mason building allowed INHS to concentrate its sprawling and far-flung operation into the downtown core.

The Spokane voters overwhelmingly passed a technology-supporting bond issue that allowed School District 81 to begin its EMAN in 1998. This EMAN remains number one in the world today.

The City of Spokane uses high-speed, broadband technology for everything from traffic control to emergency response.

For training and education of high-tech workers, the Inland Northwest Technology Education Center (INTEC) was developed, the programs offered by EWU and WSU at SIRTI have been greatly expanded, and for the high school aged, we have the Information Technologies Academy and the Biotechnologies Academy.

Into the future, we have the Inland Northwest Digital University (INDU) and its enabling partner, VPnet. VPnet is an economic development tool for the Inland Northwest to facilitate the creation of, and access to, a durable high-speed communications network.

Spokane is a very Intelligent Community. The seven finalists will be announced in July.

Billie Moreland
» News Archive

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Triangle Welcomes Caelus Consulting
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Interlink Debuts Surveillance System
Spokane Entrepreneurial Center
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Triangle Welcomes Spokane Web Communications