Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sarasota's Google Bid makes it into CNN

In a news article printed by the Herald-Tribune (published: Saturday, March 27, 2010):

Sarasota sprinted toward a Friday deadline for applications to become Google Inc.'s high-speed Internet guinea pig with an appearance by its mayor on CNN.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based search-engine company, meanwhile, said it has fielded more than 600 applications since its Feb. 10 announcement that it wanted to work with a U.S. community to push Internet speeds to the home and office to roughly 100 times the current U.S. average.

The company will narrow the field in the months ahead and expects to make a decision by the end of this year, according to a Friday update from Google’s product manager James Kelly.
Sarasota Mayor Dick Clapp, jumped into a tank filled with bonnet head sharks at Mote Marine earlier this month to drive home the point that Sarasota has educational, eco-minded groups that could benefit from Internet speed.

In a Herald-Tribune interview, Clapp indicated that officials have been inspired to gather more information regardless of Google's decision. The chief information officers from both the city and county "are trying to get an inventory of dark fiber that FPL put in that is not being used," Clapp said. FPL Group, parent company of Florida Power & Light, operates a wholly-owned fiber optic cable unit. "It is not in the interest of Comcast, Verizon or Bright House to lower prices or give away speed," Clapp said. "Google is out there stirring the pot saying, 'If you aren’t going to do it, we are going to weigh in."

In overall presence, Sarasota comes in fifth, bettered by No. 1 Grand Rapids, Mich.; No. 2 Duluth; No. 3 Topeka, Kan.; and No. 4 Baltimore. Sarasota was ahead of other major contenders, including No. 6. Fresno, Calif. and No. 7 Madison, Wis.

Sarasota's attention-getting actions -- temporarily renaming City Island as Google Island and having singer/song writer Lindsey Ray record a song about its efforts -- have pushed the community to fourth place in the entire nation for a metric Greiner calls "activation." Greiner even provides an activation timeline showing spikes in digital activity related to specific stimuli, such as the naming of Google Island. Greiner said Sarasota has a real edge in this regard.

Google "loves theatrics," he said.

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