Howard County Executive Ken Ulman traveled to Palo Alto., Calif., last month to speak with tech industry executives and venture capitalists and came back confident Maryland has something special to offer.
He said this week at the Maryland Municipal League conference that no other area has the type of fiber-optic broadband network now being installed around the state.
“This is the only place where you can get 2,000 schools on one network,” Ulman said.
Using a $115 million stimulus grant, the state is installing 1,300 miles of fiber that will connect schools, police stations, libraries, community colleges, hospitals and other anchor institutions. The project will save governments money on IT costs, said Ulman, who is overseeing the effort in Central Maryland.
But Ulman said the network will also be a sort of testing ground for developers of applications for government agencies. They will be able to tap into the network and be connected to dozens or even hundreds of potential customers.
“We think this is another piece that will lure app developers to Maryland, a real economic development opportunity,” he said.
Engineering on the project is underway in every jurisdiction in the state, and actual construction is happening in Anne Arundel, Baltimore Howard and Prince George’s counties, as well as Baltimore City.
The project faces a August 2013 due date, or the feds get their unspent dollars back.