32 U.S. Cities Join Forces for Next Century Cities High-Speed Internet Initiative

Santa Monica, California, is one of 32 cities to join the Next Century Cities broadband initiative. Santa Monica, California, is one of 32 cities to join the Next Century Cities broadband initiative. holbox / Shutterstock.com

Mayors and other officials from 32 U.S. cities kicked off a new joint initiative on Monday that aims to improve local high-speed Internet connectivity through next-generation broadband.

The Next Century Cities initiative assists innovation-minded municipalities to collaborate and push for gigabit-level Internet speeds as a way to create a more attractive local business environment, create jobs, improve health care and education plus connect residents in new ways.

The Next Century Cities coalition used a Santa Monica, California, tech coworking space as a backdrop to launch its new effort, which will encourage the sharing of best practices, tools and strategies to improve local digital infrastructure across the nation.

“Santa Monica is proud to be one of the inaugural municipalities to join Next Century Cities because of our ability to offer our community the fastest, most reliable and affordable access to the Internet and our desire to assist other cities in doing the same,” Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor said in the Next Century Cities’ announcement. “Through this collaborative network of cities, we are able to share accomplishments as well as learn from each other, stimulating innovation.”

O’Connor was joined by Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mayor Andy Burke and Lafayette, Louisiana, Mayor Joey Durel during the Next Century Cities kick off. A panel discussion was moderated by Susan Crawford, the co-author of The Responsive City and former special assistant for science, technology and innovation policy in the Obama administration.

Other participating Next Century Cities include large cities like Boston, Kansas City and San Antonio but smaller jurisdictions like Montrose, Colorado, and Westminster, Maryland. (See the full list of 32 cities below.)

Next Century Cities is a 501(c)(3) organization that receives funding from a variety of donors, including the Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Open Society Foundations and Google.

Read the full Next Century Cities announcement:

Next Century Cities Launches with 32 Cities Leading on High-Speed Internet

New Initiative Brings Together City Leaders to Show Next-Generation Internet as Key to the Future of America’s Towns and Cities

Santa Monica, Calif. (October 20, 2014) – Today 32 cities launched Next Century Cities, a bipartisan, city-to-city initiative dedicated to ensuring the availability of next-generation broadband Internet for all communities. The cities and their elected leaders are joining together to recognize the importance of leveraging gigabit-level Internet to attract new businesses and create jobs, improve health care and education, and connect residents to new opportunities.

Next Century Cities will support communities and their elected leaders across the country as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet. Today’s launch, held at a dynamic coworking space for Santa Monica’s technology companies, convened mayors and other leaders from 31 cities, including Santa Monica, Boston, Chattanooga, Raleigh, Portland, Lafayette, and San Antonio for a cross-cutting discussion about what’s worked in their cities and how to support next-generation networks nationwide.

“Across the country, city leaders are hungry to deploy high-speed Internet to transform their communities and connect residents to better jobs, better health care, and better education for their children,” said Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities. “These mayors are rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done. Next Century Cities will be right alongside them to help make their goal of communities across the country having access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet a reality.”

Next Century Cities will engage with and assist communities in developing and deploying next-generation broadband Internet. Participating cities will work with each other to learn about what works - and what doesn’t - so that every community has access to information that can help them succeed. Cities will also work together to raise awareness of this important issue to all Americans.

At today’s launch, founding city leaders agreed on the importance of next-generation broadband for thriving 21st century communities. The launch event included a video message from Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler and remarks from Mayor Pam O’Connor (D) of Santa Monica, California, Mayor Joey Durel (R) of Lafayette, Louisiana, and Mayor Andy Berke (D) of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The launch event also featured a group discussion among additional mayors, a demonstration of the potential of gigabit Internet connections for cities, and a panel with leading technology officials. Video of the event can be viewed at takeonedigital.com/ee/NCCLaunch.

What Mayors Are Saying:

“We see continued improvement in broadband speed and affordability as an essential element to driving growth and creating economic opportunity for the people of Boston."  - Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston, MA

“Right now, there is an excitement over what cities can accomplish and Next Century Cities can help take that excitement to the next level. From building Innovation Districts and the resurgence of entrepreneurship to supporting growth through infrastructure, the environment, and economic development, cities are developing and implementing innovative solutions that make life better for communities across the county.” – Mayor Andy Berke, Chattanooga, TN

"Next Century Cities is precisely the type of collaboration needed to ensure we use the Internet and technology to move our communities forward.” – Mayor Sly James, Kansas City, MO

“Portland is a city of innovators, of makers. From our education community to our nonprofit community, to our faith community, broadband will prove a boon to the entire city, and will help secure our position in the international economy.” – Mayor Charlie Hales, Portland, OR

“Santa Monica is proud to be one of the inaugural municipalities to join Next Century Cities because of our ability to offer our community the fastest, most reliable and affordable access to the Internet and our desire to assist other cities in doing the same. Through this collaborative network of cities, we are able to share accomplishments as well as learn from each other, stimulating innovation.” – Mayor Pam O’Connor, Santa Monica, CA

Next Century Cities Inaugural Partners (32):

Ammon, ID

Auburn, IN

Austin, TX

Boston, MA

Centennial, CO

Champaign, IL

Chattanooga, TN

Clarksville, TN

Jackson, TN

Kansas City, KS

Kansas City, MO

Lafayette, LA

Lexington, KY

Leverett, MA

Louisville, KY

Montrose, CO

Morristown, TN

Mount Vernon, WA

Palo Alto, CA

Ponca City, OK

Portland, OR

Raleigh, NC

Rockport, ME

San Antonio, TX

Sandy, OR

Santa Cruz County, CA

Santa Monica, CA

South Portland, ME

Urbana, IL

Westminster, MD

Wilson, NC

Winthrop, MN

Next Century Cities is a city-to-city initiative founded to support communities and their elected leaders, including mayors and other officials, as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet. As innovative municipalities across the country recognize the importance of leveraging gigabit level Internet to attract new businesses and create jobs, improve health care and education, and connect residents to new opportunities, Next Century Cities will celebrate these successes, demonstrate their value, and help other cities to realize the full power of truly high-speed, affordable, and accessible broadband. For more information, visit www.nextcenturycities.org.

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