Business View Magazine | December 2018

358 359 Development, and Scott Boone, Director Information Technology, about the challenges facing Kent Coun- ty and ongoing solutions that are helping drive its growth.The following is an edited transcript of that conversation. BVM: Howwould you describe the makeup of Kent County? Williams: “Kent County is a rural community with 91 percent of our land zoned agricultural.Our five economic drivers include agriculture, education, healthcare,manufacturing, and tourism. In our Com- prehensive Plan,we want to remain agricultural in nature; that component also promotes our tourism, it’s such a beautiful place to live.We want controlled, sustainable growth, it’s a careful balance.” “We’ve embarked on a major infrastructure proj- ect for fiber,we want to attract high-paying jobs with low environmental impacts.That’s important because we’re surrounded on three sides by water, and water recreation,maritime businesses, and the seafood industry are all very important to our com- munity.” BVM: What is involved in the fiber project? Boone: “There are 110 miles of high-capacity linear fiber throughout Kent County, built in a way that we have a number of redundant links,with very few laterals.The strategy we used to build the fiber network was to connect government anchor sites -anything from public safety (firehouses, police stations) to library branches, schools, or government buildings.We went from about 17 sites connected, to now approaching 69. In a small county like Kent, having that many government anchor sites is a big deal. KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND “It’s a public-private partnership–the private side is a company called Kent Fiber Optic Sys- tems,who takes the responsibility of leasing the dark fiber.They have two internet tenants right now: Fiber-to-the-home company,Think- Big Networks, and a wireless service provider, Cambio Networks,which just signed a contract to use the fiber to transport to towers, and from the towers, they bring wireless to the home. Dark fiber means you hand over a dark tube and the customer lights it themselves using their own equipment. Lit fiber means you’re paying for a lit service from a provider.There are some local businesses that have already leased dark fiber, and quite a few that are on the lit fiber.” “With the government services side,we’re turn- ing our anchor sites into ‘Homework Hotspots,’ where we build out free wireless–canopies, in some instances, over parks, beaches, and govern- ment owned structures–and we use the gov- ernment buildings.We have a website that shows students the locations and how to connect. In the five months (May to Octo- ber 2018), the public pulled 432 gigs across our 13 hotspots.To show how fast that’s rising, the first eight days of November, the public pulled 47 gigs and that’s free Wi-Fi to students.” BVM: Do you have a comprehensive growth strategy?