By Lisa Rodriguez
As more and more cities across the United States get access to gigabit Internet, more are asking the question — what do we do with it?
And a lot of those cities turn to Kansas City for help finding the answer.
This week, hundreds of civic leaders from around the country are in Kansas City for the second annual Gigabit City Summit, where according to the organizers, they’ll learn how to "seize the gigabit opportunity."
More than 75 cities will be represented, from those just learning how to manage a large-scale fiber-optic infrastructure, to those who are ready to turn the technology into civic change.
Aaron Deacon is the managing director of KC Digital Drive, which organized the three-day event. He says once Internet service providers like Google and AT&T started announcing plans for expanding gigabit service, the calls started flooding in.
“[Cities] really wanted to know how do you start to use this asset to achieve the kind of social and civic changes that you want," Deacon says.
He says at last year's summit, attendees were focused on seeing the actual, physical network and exploring some of the initiatives that Kansas City had started.
This year, he says, people will see how Kansas City has evolved and look at some of the results of the initiatives that were in progress the year before.
“With the Smart City corridor now open, even if seeing a widget on a street pole, or a light pole may not be the most scintillating thing. But there something that's nice about the tangibleness of it, even still,” Deacon says.
This year’s conference, which runs through Wednesday, features sessions on infrastructure, digital inclusion, civic tech, education and city collaboration.
For a more in-depth look at some of the conversations taking place at this year’s Gigabit Summit, tune in to KCUR’s Up To Date on Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and producer for KCUR 89.3 Connect with her on Twitter@larodrig.