President Barack Obama visited Chattanooga, Tenn., on July 30 as part of his effort to stoke interest in emerging jobs and industries, and the public resources that can support them, like Chattanooga's broadband network.
The southern Appalachian city of 170,000 started laying fiber optic cable for broadband in 2008 — and in 2012 claimed to have the fastest Internet of any city in the United States.
Last year the Obama named Chattanooga as one of 25 cities joining a public-private nationwide broadband expansion partnership, with the goal of increasing “the development of applications for advanced manufacturing, medical monitoring, emergency preparedness and a host of other services” by “bringing software developers and engineers from government and industry together with representatives from communities, schools, hospitals and other institutions.”
In times of sequestration, the federal government does not have much money to devote to the project, but the partnership has been organized as a nonprofit called US Ignite, with the aim of supporting 60 next-generation apps, 200 community-tested applications and a new collaboration forum for cities and companies in industries like energy and healthcare.
Whether hospitals and doctors end up using broadband where it’s available on a national level isn’t clear, but they have started doing so in Tennessee.
In greater Chattanooga, for instance, 10 radiology practices exchange medical images among 14 hospitals and clinics.
On top of the broadband, Tennessee providers also have health information exchange services from Health eShare Direct Project, offering sharing of hospital discharge information, closed-loop referrals, lab and results orders, and patient information access.
The Federal Communications Commission wants to see broadband internet expanded, and has set a goal of seeing at least one “gigabit community” in each state offering high speed internet by 2015.
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