The university and the Town of Blacksburg have recently submitted a joint application named "FutureForward Blacksburg" for Google's "Think Big with a Gig" experiment to build ultra-high speed fiber to the home networks in a number of locations across the country.

As part of the Town of Blacksburg's submittal, Virginia Tech Geospatial Information Sciences prepared a video that illustrates a number of applications that citizens, students, government officials, and businesses in the town would be able to use if a gigabit Ethernet were made available to them.

Blacksburg currently has connectivity to national Tier One networks including Internet2 and National Lambda Rail; however, this high bandwidth capacity does not reach residential areas and apartment complexes. If Blacksburg is selected, Google proposes to bring gigabit fiber to the last mile, providing these users with Internet speeds 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today.

The video demonstrates how this extremely powerful Internet access could greatly enhance the town's planning and modeling capabilities, improve emergency response communications, and enhanced long-distance medical diagnosis. Virginia Tech and the town communities could also receive shared benefits through next generation classrooms and teaching technologies, real-time online learning atmospheres, shared virtual reality environments for research and the arts, and 3-D routing and viewshed research.

Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger is featured in the video and commented how data rich environments and just-in-time information systems will be key to the success of Virginia Tech's new college that is currently being planned. He described it as, "highly experimental and will change the paradigm for undergraduate learning....We are going to change the way in which young people go about addressing and thinking about the problems they face in the future."

In his own video response, Rick Boucher, Virginia Representative and chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s technology and Internet subcommittee, spoke in favor of Blacksburg as a location for Google's project, "Blacksburg's accomplishments are compelling proof that they will make optimal use of this extraordinary infrastructure that Google proposes to build. I urge Google to give serious, favorable consideration to Blacksburg as the location for their fiber to the home testbed project."

The "FutureForward Blacksburg" video is available for viewing on Virginia Tech's eCorridors program YouTube page. The creators of the video encourage those interested in seeing Blacksburg selected as part of this experiment to make their comments known by posting a comment on the video's page. The video can also be easily shared with other social networks by clicking the share link.

The mission of the eCorridors program at Virginia Tech is to facilitate and promote the ability for every person, organization, and community in Virginia and beyond to have the capability, at a reasonable cost, to produce and access high volume information and services in the networked world. More information on how eCorridors is working toward this objective is available at the program website.

Virginia Tech Geospatial Information Sciences is a geospatial initiative of Virginia Tech, a division of Information Technology's Strategic Partnership Initiatives and applies geospatial technologies and analytical methods in the areas of research and collaboration, safety and security, community broadband, energy and sustainability, health information technology, and lowering barriers to the use of geospatial information science tools and data.

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