Columbia groups continue working on Google Fiber

The application is due March 26.

Columbia residents and officials are continuing work to apply for Google's Fiber Network Trial, which the company announced Feb. 10.

City organizations, such as Regional Economic Development Inc., are working directly on writing Columbia's Request for Information to Google. REDI will attach its own document to the formal RFI that is sent to Google, explaining why Columbia should be chosen for the high-speed Internet program. The deadline for the RFI is March 26.

"REDI is focusing on getting the city application ready on behalf of the city and county," REDI President Mike Brooks said.

COMOFiber, a community group, is raising awareness throughout Columbia through online communication and events, such as the flash mob at an MU basketball game. The group is also working with REDI, which asked different organizations to come together and work on the proposal, COMOFiber coordinator Scott Wendling said.

"Google is looking for a community that has a good system of cooperation, which we have," he said.

In addition to these groups, some businesses are involved in the decision-making process, such as Tranquility Internet Services. Tranquility has been helping raise awareness about the trial, as well as coming up with ideas for the city's document, Tranquility's Date Center Manager Hunter Cook said.

"The city's application is in a pretty solid rough draft state and will need refining over the next two weeks, but I feel good about it," Cook said. "The public process has gone very well, and we have had some major outreach projects to spread awareness."

Aside from these groups, some people want to make sure Columbia residents understand what would happen if Google chooses the city for its trial, Brooks said.

"We have had individuals that want us to make sure that we know what Google is proposing in full since they are a business and won't be simply offering this service for free," Brooks said. "It isn't negative commentary, just a reality check for the community."

Although Columbia is one city among thousands applying to Google, Columbia does have unique advantages that would be beneficial.

"Columbia is uniquely advantageous because Columbia has a knowledge infrastructure that rivals major cities without having the information infrastructure," Cook said. "Google would make a major impact on the city, and the technological advances that could come out of this could possibly impact the whole world."

Although the city is applying for an RFI directly to Google, any person in the community can nominate the city by going to Google's Web site for the program. or through COMOFiber's Web site, Cook said.

"I would hope that everyone takes a look at COMOFiber and takes the short amount of time it takes to nominate the city," Cook said.

REDI will present a draft of the document to City Council on Monday, so the council may formally recognize the city's efforts.

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