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On March 30, 2011, Google announced that it would bring its new high-speed fiberoptic network to Kansas City, Kan. Residents and businesses would be able to connect at a speed of 1 gigabit per second, 100 times faster than the average American's connection speed. In May 2011, the company announced that the service would be extended to Kansas City, Mo., as well. On July 26, 2012, Google announced that it would launch a television service along with the internet service. The announcement marked a six-week rally during which interested people can pre-register for Google's services. The next big date is Sept. 9, 2012, at which point the pre-registration period is over, and Kansas Citians who've secured the service can begin to schedule installations.

Mozilla Invests $59,000 In Three Kansas City Startups

KC Social Innovation Center

Three Kansas City startups will receive a combined $59,000 from the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund to expand and develop programs that promote innovation in the classroom.

KC Social Innovation Center, PlanIT Impact and  Pennez were awarded money for using Kansas City’s gigabit internet to create new ways to learn.

The KC Social Innovation Center will give students real-world experience in the emerging 'Internet of Things' industry. It piloted its SensED program in four Lee's Summit schools last fall. 

The internet of things is the network of physical objects — devices, vehicles, buildings — containing software, sensors and internet connectivity that enable them to collect and exchange data. 

PlanIT Impact is a tool that provides architects, planners and designers with information on how a building or site will utilize energy, emit greenhouse gases and perform in other ways by using open data to create interactive 3D models. 

Pennezis an online tool that teaches reading using artificial intelligence software that interacts with kids in real time.  It's designed to help children with different dialects, cultures and other educational needs improve their reading. 

Janice Wait leads Mozilla’s gigabit work in Kansas City. She says she's excited about the potential of these programs to expand to other cities across the country.

“The technologies that they’re using are very cutting edge, and they’re things that you don’t often see in classroom environments,” Wait says. 

All three companies now enter a 16-week pilot period, during which they'll scale up and expand their programs.

The Gigabit Community Fund is a partnership with Mozilla, The National Science Foundation and US Ignite to demonstrate the value of gigabit networks. It currently funds pilot projects in the country's first two gigabit cities, Kansas City and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and recently announced  it will be adding Austin, Texas. 

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
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