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Next Generation Broadband: Cornerstone Infrastructure for 21st-Century Brownfields Redevelopment

Tillman Lay

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Much as railroads were in the 19th century, and electric, telephone and highway transportation networks were in the 20th century, high-speed broadband will be the critical infrastructure of the 21st century. The availability of next-generation high-speed broadband will play a leading role in determining which communities will enjoy economic growth and prosperity in the 21st century.

Local governments and planners should therefore seriously consider incorporating next-generation broadband infrastructure into brownfields redevelopment projects, whether industrial, commercial, residential or mixed-use. With next-generation broadband, redeveloped brownfield areas can become magnets for economic growth. Without it, they may well fall still further behind the rest of the nation.

Broadband enables communities to attract new businesses and skilled work forces and is essential to 21st-century education. Its other benefits include the more efficient and widespread delivery of high-quality healthcare services, the enhanced provision of government services to the public, and improved communications in all areas of society. Also, as the backbone of a "smart grid," broadband will play a critical role in promoting energy efficiency and independence.

This paper is intended to educate planners about these and the many other benefits of next-generation broadband and how those benefits can be leveraged to make brownfield redevelopment projects—and the communities where they exist—more successful. It also outlines how local governments might incorporate broadband into redevelopment projects and provides examples of successful broadband projects.

The Brownfield Communities Network will host a free webinar on this topic on June 7th, 2012. In this webinar, the author of the paper, Tillman Lay, will discuss the white paper and its examples. Google is installing next-generation broadband throughout Kansas City, and Andrew Bracker from the Kansas City Brownfields Office will offer a local government perspective. 

This white paper was developed by NALGEP with the assistance of Spiegel & McDiarmid LLP under a grant awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

Founded in 1993, NALGEP is the premier national organization representing local government professionals responsible for environmental compliance and the development and implementation of local environmental policy. NALGEP is managed by Spiegel & McDiarmid LLP, a national law firm based in Washington, DC.