Smart technology permeates the streets and parks of Chattanooga.What started out as a project to improve the electric grid has grown into a high-tech solution that brings Gigabit Ethernet to the residents and businesses of Chattanooga. EPB, Chattanooga's community-owned electric utility, began installing a 100 percent fiber-optic network some time ago to meet smart-grid initiatives and bring better control to the electrical grid.
Now completed, EPB's fiber-optic network has brought with it several other benefits, including helping the city build a high-speed Internet-connected management and control system, which incorporates everything from street-light control, to IP surveillance cameras, to a city-wide symmetrical WiFi grid.
Today, fiber permeates the city and county of Chattanooga, delivering what may be the most impressive benefit of all--Gigabit Ethernet to homes and businesses, which can now leverage voice over IP technologies, telepresence systems, cloud services and other bandwidth-consuming technologies.
EPB claims that it has built America's first true Smart Grid--a grid that offers residential high-speed Internet, video and telephone services. EPB's Gigabit Ethernet service has also created a type of a renaissance for technology startups, entrepreneurs, and other tech-savvy businesses--something that the city has taken to heart with the announcement of an application competition, called the Gig Prize. The competition is backed with $350,000 in prize money from Alcatel-Lucent.
“Last year, Chattanooga became America’s first and only city to complete a community-wide network capable of delivering up to 1G bps Internet speeds to every home and business in EPB’s 600-square-mile service area,” said Robert Vrij, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s Americas Region. “We’re proud to partner with Chattanooga as this extraordinary city establishes a groundbreaking model for demonstrating the direct linkage between investment in telecommunications infrastructure and economic growth.”
Vrij made his announcement as part of his keynote address during the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Innovation luncheon where community leaders announced an initiative to position Chattanooga as the Gig City and unveiled the Gig Prize, a competition in which students and entrepreneurs will create and test next-generation Internet applications and launch businesses using Chattanooga’s Internet services.
Chattanooga, the city and county, has benefited greatly from the fiber backbone and city-wide WiFi implementation. The city has seen reductions in crime, improved public safety, reduced operational costs (thanks to LED lighting and controls), and brought high-tech solutions into patrol cars, city service vehicles and other agency assets.
For example, police can now access security cameras in public places, and even increase lighting levels in parks or on roads where they may anticipate trouble. Add to that automated power-grid monitoring and controls, and blackouts and brownouts are becoming a thing of the past, further improving public safety.
Chattanooga is proving to be a perfect example of how a city can leverage technology to improve quality of life, meet public safety needs and serve a technology-hungry market, all while bringing high-speed Internet and services right into the home or business at competitive prices.