Will Austin build transformative high-bandwidth applications?

Will Austin build transformative high-bandwidth applications?

Last Thursday, Austin City Council voted unanimously to accept $145,000 in grant funding as part of US Ignite’s Smart Gigabit Communities Program. This is an exciting development — one that can lead to Austin becoming a leader in next-generation applications that utilize the gigabit internet and benefit the community at large.


US Ignite is a nonproft that operates as a public private partnership to nurture the creation of next-generation applications and services that run on advanced wireless networks to create smart communities throughout the world.

US Ignite’s Smart Gigabit Communities Program is funded by a three-year, $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Nineteen communities, including Austin, are part of the effort to create a sustainable ecosystem of smart and connected cities that develop and share gigabit applications that provide technology solutions for six national priority areas:

  • clean energy
  • education and workforce technologies
  • health information technologies
  • public safety
  • transportation
  • advanced manufacturing

Read about some of the promising applications already under development through the Smart Gigabit Communities Program.

After the program ends, each Smart Gigabit Community will share its gigabit applications with other communities in the network, helping to build out the first stages of a gigabit “app store” of technology solutions.

Austin’s involvement

Austin joined the Smart Gigabit Communities Program in year two of the three-year grant period.

Last week, Austin City Council voted to “to accept and appropriate $145,000 in grant funds from US Ignite for the Smart Gigabit Communities Program to develop applications that use high speed broadband networks to benefit the community.” City Council agenda backup documents detail how the $145,000 will be spent:

$20,000 for conducting a Reverse Pitch Competition to generate ideas for gigabit application development; $30,000 annually for a part time, technical leader over a two-year period (up to $60,000); $25,000 for start-up funding to support gigabit activities and application development in the local community; and $20,000 annually for two years (up to $40,000) to be used to test the applications to make sure they work with each other and are interoperable with the other communities.

Next steps

First up is the Reverse Pitch Competition. Austin’s Reserve Pitch Competition will take place at ATX Hack for Change, a June 2–4 civic hackathon at St. Edwards University dedicated to hacking solutions to community problems. The Competition will help to frame the challenges that can be addressed through the development of a gigabit application.

Austin’s makers, developers, and entrepreneurs will then have an opportunity to compete for cash prizes that will be awarded to the top developers who can come up with applications ideas that utilize gigabit bandwidth and or require extremely low latency.

Austin Tech Alliance will help to promote the event, so stay tuned for more details as they become available.

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