By Dean Whittaker

Have you every wondered who planted that tree? Someone, back in time, planted the seed that became the tree that provides the shade and beauty that we enjoy in the fall colors.

This month, the community in which I live, Holland, MI, planted a technological seed that will grow to serve our community for years to come. Our city council approved the funding for our Board of Public Works (BPW) to develop a business plan and implementation study for our community-owned 1-gig fiber-optic network.

Before year’s end, we will have a downtown pilot project underway in two major commercial buildings, a coffee shop, and a residential neighborhood offering one-gig service. In the spring of 2016 we will review the results of our pilot project and make a decision to move forward with a 1-gig community-wide system.

So why is this such a big deal? Well, because our 1-gig broadband fiber connection will serve as a platform for many uses. It will connect our businesses to their potential nine billion global customer marketplace. It will provide the communication system to enhance our education and health care, and it will allow our government to function more efficiently as it becomes a “smart” city.

The seed that was planted this month will sprout and grow in unpredictable ways. It will enhance the quality of life of our community and, thus, draw talent to support the expansion of our existing companies. It will foster the creation of new businesses and help others expand. It will give our students the ability to interact with the best and brightest students and teachers around the world.

Information technology is a tool that leverages the mind. It amplifies our capability and gives us the opportunity to do amazing things. There is a convergence of three areas of technology that are changing at an exponential rate: computing power, communication speed, and data storage. Our community’s future will lay at the intersection of these three domains and the innovations that they spawn. That is why this is such a big deal.