News & Events

Policy Options for the New Administration

In today’s environment, having reliable, fast, and affordable broadband is as important as railways and highways were in an earlier generation. Innovations in wireless and gigabit broadband will enable more personalized medicine, experiential learning, collaborative autonomous vehicles, and personalized emergency response. US Ignite is a non-profit focused on these new applications and services made possible by smart broadband networks, and the economic development that leverages these technological investments to spark economic and social development in over 40 communities.

Our mission is to build smart tools for stronger communities to create broader economic opportunities for everyone. We achieve this mission by creating tools and platforms that position communities for the future by accelerating the adoption of new Smart City applications in cities across the country. US Ignite leverages these new tools to drive economic development that enable everyone to live a productive, enriched life while generating new city services, investment in high-growth startups, and high-skilled jobs.

Today, US Ignite has helped bring economic renewal in former manufacturing towns, connected rural communities to a national support system, and provided new educational tools to low-income neighborhoods. Through US Ignite and its programs, communities seek solutions to understand, manage, and solve challenges faced by communities around the world.

US Ignite works to create next-generation applications that provide transformative public benefit in six sectors of the economy: healthcare, education, public safety, energy, transportation and advanced manufacturing. To accomplish this, US Ignite engages with a wide range of stakeholders, from individual students and startups to large corporate, university and non-profit partners.

In order to enable communities nationwide to reach their full potential in a rapidly changing 21st century global economy, we recommend that the Administration consider the following:

  • Supporting broadband and smart cities in the infrastructure bill. This would provide support for broadband networks in low-income and rural areas. It would allow for communities to add smart city networks and applications on top of their new or enhanced broadband infrastructure. These smart city apps would provide new city services (e.g., reduced traffic congestion) and lower the costs of monitoring and maintenance of infrastructure.
  • Smart City Communities Pilot Program. Smart cities create huge opportunities for communities to provide new energy, healthcare, and transportation services that are tailored for their local populations while reducing city operating costs. By combining efforts across agencies like NSF, DOT and other agency investments, we can create several integrated programs that can ensure US leadership in this important industry while creating new community services.
  • RD investments in networking, computing, big data, smart cities, and wireless. In previous decades, these investments from DOD, NSF, and other agencies have helped to create new technologies like the Internet and GPS, leading to whole new industries and businesses. Expanding support for this research, in partnership with industry, can help maintain US leadership in this vital sector through bottom-up support for local innovation.
  • Distance learning networks for K-12 students. There is a wave of new communications technologies, like virtual reality, that can make the user feel like they are in the room with their teacher, who may actually be across the country. We recommend setting up a national network of community institutions including schools and libraries that can provide students, researchers, startups access to cutting-edge development tools to create new cost-effective for distance learning.
  • Making STEM education tools available nationwide. Today, there are STEM education opportunities offered connecting middle and high school students to university researchers to experience their labs through broadband networks to see demonstrations of biology, physics, manufacturing, and other research.
  • Streamline workforce development and community college costs with distance learning. By offering adult students targeted online training, accelerated learning programs can support workforce development programs for sectors like IT, manufacturing, and healthcare.
  • Providing first responders with new tools. Public safety smart city applications like building sensors can help reduce risks for first responders while lower costs for communities.
  • Vet training for IT and communications sectors. As they transition out of the military, service members require new skills to enter the civilian job market. Providing IT and communications training and assistance to these vets in coordination with industry can help them start a new career.
  • Tribal Community Broadband Tiger Teams. Broadband access for a 25Mbps service on Tribal lands is only 59% (FCC, 2016) versus 90% for the national average – for rural communities in Tribal lands it is only 32%. These communities need combined funds for connecting schools, homes, businesses, and hospitals. They also need extensive technical assistance for network design, deployment, and operation.

The success of the US Ignite organization can be measured through increased economic development and opportunities within our partner communities. We seek to accelerate the translation of emerging technologies and Smart City applications from the lab into cities, businesses, schools, hospitals, and universities. US Ignite has demonstrated it is uniquely capable of working across these local stakeholders to achieve program outputs on time and under budget, offering targeted and measurable outcomes through:

  • Designing and supporting member city strategies, networks, apps, and startup accelerators.
  • Creating new tools that streamline Smart City development strategies, stakeholder engagement, measuring community impact.
  • Offering exciting new online resources launched for community leaders and citizens alike.