About 30 people assembled at the Dripolator on Thursday evening, March 4, to discuss ways to encourage citizen involvement to convince Google to pick Asheville as the town where it will build a high-speed fiber-optic network that brings super Internet connectivity to homes and businesses at speeds of 100 times that of DSL and other typical services presently available. Xpress reporter David Forbes covered the meeting with live Twitter messages. Here are his assembled tweets from the meeting:
Council member Gordon Smith opens the meeting on the #googleavl effort, saying, “We have hundreds of people involved; we need thousands. … It’s not our job to become what Google wants, but to explain who we are to Google. … Google will lay super-fast fiber cable to homes and businesses in one or more cities in America.”
Ben Teague from the Economic Development Coalition, invites people to send Google videos explaining “What would you innovate?”
Smith says people need to fill out individual applications for the #googleavl project, and tell how they will use the connectivity. This Google push will be “mass insanity, and we get to be a part of it! We’re good at insanity in this town!”
Hunter Goosmann says if Asheville gets the Google network, it will shine a national spotlight. “People will come here to participate in that.” He says Google would take networks to every home “at competitive prices.” The super-fast fiber network would also aid WNC MAIN’s Cloud Computing project.
Smith says that with the fiber network,“we can reimagine how we do education.”
Paul VanHeden says, getting the #googleavl fiber network would be the “economic equivalent of the railroad coming in 1823; it’s difficult to overstate how important this is.”
Michael Muller says Google wants to “get from us good ways we’re going to use this creatively… in ways they haven’t thought of.”
The meeting breaks up into separate groups to brainstorm possible applications and ways to build a widespread buzz. Ideas emerge from the groups, including: getting more small businesses involved in the #googleavl push; setting up public laptops where people can apply as individuals to Google in support of Asheville as the town to choose. One idea for the super-fast network involves using Asheville’s off-hours, idle computers to work on scientific and medical challenges. Another idea for building the buzz is to develop concise #googleavl talking points, and spread them via social networks online and otherwise. One group came agreed to push the #googleavl message out to college students and people’s Facebook friends. Another group will take the educational effort downtown, to record videos of members of the public talking about what they’d do using the fiber network, as well as to help make #googleavl’s impact clear to the public. The group plans two video-shoot days this Sat. and Sun. Smith says the public needs to be invited to make their own video recordings using their cell phones of how #googleavl can help them.
Google’s final deadline for applications for the project — individual and otherwise — is March 26.
Smith will compose a #googleavl fact sheet in next few days.
Van Heden says #Googleavl will bring a “wellspring of decent jobs” to benefit the community, not just to the tech-savvy.
Smith says there will be a town hall meeting for #GoogleAvl at Civic Center ballroom on March 18. He closes the meeting, saying to the crowd, “You are the seeds that are going to make this happen, if you follow through.”