Connecting the New Pittsburgh

My colleague Susan Crawford, who teaches at Cardozo Law School and who serves on the ICANN Board, has this provocative post today:
Economic growth is tied to new ideas; new ideas are more likely to emerge online than anywhere else; so universal highspeed internet access should be a key government policy. And those private providers have every reason to skew things towards their own benefit rather than the larger social good.

Today there's a report from Australia saying -- according to MuniWireless -- that there's an association between highspeed internet access and economic growth. The report costs a good deal to access, which is unfortunate. But here's a nice summary:

This year’s report presents a compelling case for the roll-out of broadband in all regions and that it is the key driver of economic growth.

The Report found:

· the failure to address inferior Internet access quality could cost regions up to $2.7 billion in foregone gross regional products and up to 30,000 jobs in 2006;

· regions with poor access to telecommunications technology are less productive;

· firms that use the Internet can increase their sales 3.4% faster than other firms; and

· high speed broadband provides the best opportunity for Australia’s industries to access global supply chains.

The Report says that the connection of rural communities to broadband is happening ‘relatively slowly’, despite Government programs.

So -- maybe someday we'll have access to the whole report. But for the meantime it's an interesting summarized data point.

The relevance? Rails and rivers built the old Pittsburgh. What will build the New Pittsburgh?


1 Response to "Connecting the New Pittsburgh"

Jim Russell said... 12/20/2006 10:46 AM

The Pittsburgh Region is on the right side of the digital divide. There is enough broadband access linking the area to the global economy. What I take from the report (or, the report on the report) is that you could use broadband access to strategically locate economic activity.

Regional planners should evaluate locations of relatively inexpensive real estate with close proximity to a major airport, looking for candidates for broadband access. I'd add an educational initiative, developing a school curriculum that takes advantage of the global connectivity.

Socializing people to thrive in an online environment is instrumental to driving regional innovation.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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