CITY HALL — City Hall wants to get something for nothing.
City staff is in the process of submitting an application to Internet giant Google to compete for an ultra-high speed broadband network being offered by the company.
If selected, Google proposes to construct a fiber optic network in Santa Monica capable of downloading a feature-length film in less than five minutes. The company claims the 1-gigabit-per-second network is more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today.
Google is planning to offer services at a competitive price to at least 50,000, and potentially up to 500,000 people, city staff said.
Google’s request for information released on Feb. 10, 2010 has attracted national news as cities and other local governments vie to be chosen for the trial. One city — Topeka, Kan. — has gone so far as to rename itself “Google” for the month of March. City officials are hopeful that the merits of Santa Monica stand on their own, and that widespread community support will show Google that Santa Monica is the perfect pilot community.
As a diverse, sustainable and plugged-in community with a robust medical sector and a wealth of learning opportunities for all ages and income levels, Santa Monica is ideally positioned to demonstrate and benefit from the presence of an ultra-high-speed broadband network, said Jory Wolf, chief information officer for City Hall.
“We are in a position to be an excellent candidate for Google’s pilot program,” Wolf said. “We already have fiber optic cable throughout much of the city for delivering government information and services to the public and for the applications envisioned in Google’s initiative.”
City Hall is reaching out to community groups and businesses for support in the campaign to bring Google fiber for communities to Santa Monica. City Hall has identified many potential applications for this service:
• Public Safety: advanced public safety communications, emergency phones, IP cameras, data transport, disaster response and recovery, public health communications.
• Telemedicine: video conferencing technologies and electronic communications to allow patients at one site to have a visit with a doctor at a different site. The tools used by clinicians to observe and collect vital information, such as otoscopes and stethoscopes, have been adapted so the clinician and patient can see and hear as if they were in the same room. Rural areas or any connected global village could obtain specialist opinions from St. John’s and Santa Monica UCLA Hospital, offering additional service opportunities. Network will facilitate real-time X-ray transfer between hospitals and referring medical clinics.
• Education: online GED programs for all income areas, lifelong learning for personal and professional enhancement, connect local colleges and resident professors to global community for online virtual courses/trainings and parent/faculty communications for local K-12 schools.
• Regional Telepresence: used by business, K-12 schools, Santa Monica College and city services for meetings, it could potentially help to ease traffic burden in the area.
• Sustainability: data transport using broadband infrastructure instead of courier service, telepresence offers “life-like” conference room meeting without the need to leave the city.
• Civic Participation: enhancing online communication, community meetings, feedback, blogs.
• Transportation: will allow greater expansion of transit priority systems, traffic signal synchronization to support public transportation and reduce carbon emissions, advanced parking meters for better customer service and monitoring.
• Smart Grid: broadband infrastructure will support two-way transmission required for monitoring and controlling electricity from suppliers to consumers. Home Area Networks in residential dwellings, city buildings, commercial buildings to monitor and control excess power supplies generated by solar panels and alternative sources. For example, in the event of an emergency, power could be reallocated from commercial buildings to local hospitals.
The technology for this service has been available for several years, but cost has been a major obstacle in expanding it to communities. Wolf said. One estimate taken from Business Week anticipates that it will cost Google between $3,000 and $8,000 per home, or roughly $60 million to $1.6 billion, depending on the final size and footprint of the network. Google proposes to pick up the tab for the infrastructure and then operate it as an “open access” network, offering users the choice of multiple service providers from small start-ups to large, well-established Internet service providers. More information on “Google Fiber for Communities” is available atwww.google.com/appserve/fiberrfi/.
To help make 1GB/second Internet speeds a reality in Santa Monica:
1. Visit http://www.google.com/appserve/fiberrfi/public/options before March 26 and nominate Santa Monica for the trial. (You will be asked to create a gmail account if you don’t already have one.)
2. Post comments on the Wall at www.facebook.com/1GBinSM
3. E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in the application.
City Hall will submit its application to Google in time for the March 26 deadline.