Next Century Cities recently marked its third anniversary since the organization’s launch in 2014. Over three short years, this nonprofit coalition that started with just 32 mayors has grown to represent 35 million Americans in 182 communities across the country, and has worked tirelessly to represent local leaders’ voices in national broadband debates and to advocate for city rights and choices.
Over the past three years, Next Century Cities members have made tremendous progress in promoting local leadership in broadband and creative community solutions. Next Century Cities is thrilled to be entering year four with such an enthusiastic and determined membership, and is looking forward to building on these successes as they work to expand access to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband in communities nationwide.
Here’s a quick look back at what Next Century Cities has been able to accomplish with its engaged membership in just three years:
Hosted eleven major regional summits and national events, and organized countless panels. Next Century Cities works to continuously elevate city voices through events that ensure that there’s a seat at the table for the local perspective, and provide a platform for cities to share stories of success and lessons learned.
- Transforming Communities: Broadband Goals for 2017 and Beyond featured Senators Boozman (R-AR), Klobuchar (D-MN), and King (I-ME), as well as mayors and city leaders. It was held in Washington, D.C. to discuss strategies and policy priorities for expanding access to high-speed internet and broadband policy priorities following the 2017 election.
- Next Century Cities hosted three Regional Broadband Summits, in Maine, Washington State, and Arizona. The latest Summit, Digital Southwest, co-hosted by Next Century Cities and the City of Mesa, Ariz., brought together broadband champions from federal, state, and local government, as well as community leaders and broadband policy experts from the Southwest and across the nation.
- The Launch of the Ammon Fiber Utility celebrated member Ammon, Id.’s successful and innovative open-access network and lifted up their model as a resource and inspiration for other communities.
- City-Vendor Connect paired dozens of cities looking for innovative partnerships to expand broadband access for their residents with multiple vendors offering a variety of proposed solutions.
- In addition to hosting events, Next Century Cities has coordinated panels to lift local voices at events for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, SXSW, the Broadband Communities Summit, and more.
Created a robust array of resources for member communities and the public on important broadband issues. Next Century Cities has developed playbooks, policy agendas, fact sheets, commenting guides, weekly newsletters, webinars, resource pages, and blog posts so that member mayors have the information they need to support their communities. The Next Century Cities website — https://nextcenturycities.org — is a place to turn to for information about successful projects, pending legislation, or FCC proceedings, and is a first stop in sketching a city broadband plan.
Lifted up digital equity and civic engagement innovations with grants and awards to fifteen different community projects. Next Century Cities’ Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards have recognized unique projects across the country, such as Seattle’s Technology Matching Fund program and Kansas City, Mo.’s Internet Services and Weatherization Program. The Charles Benton Next Generation Engagement Awards supported civic engagement initiatives in Raleigh, N.C.; Louisville, Ky.; and Austin, Texas. These projects served as inspiration for the new civic engagement playbook. Each of these projects demonstrate the limitless potential of a connected community, and Next Century Cities is proud to support them.
Ensured Mayors’ voices were heard by federal policymakers. Next Century Cities has filed comments with the FCC on several issues of importance to cities, including rights-of-way management and One Touch Make Ready, and the deployment of reliable broadband services. Next Century Cities also provides resources to help members write their own comments.
Advocated for cities and community interests with letters. Next Century Cities advocates for city interests by signing on to letters addressed to legislators in support of local control, the importance of including broadband in the infrastructure plan and presidential debates, accessible and universal reporting on broadband network performance, and community choice.
Represented Mayors to Presidential Administrations. Next Century Cities has visited the White House on several occasions to discuss the importance of universally available fast, affordable, and reliable broadband.
Testified before Congress. The organization supported Dr. Robert Wack, of member city Westminster, Md., when he appeared before Subcommittee on Communications and Technology to testify about the importance of accurate broadband mapping. And Next Century Cities Executive Director Deb Socia has delivered two Congressional testimonies about broadband infrastructure investment and barriers to broadband deployment.
Next Century Cities will continue to pursue opportunities to engage, inform, and empower local officials as they work toward ensuring fast, affordable, and reliable broadband access for their residents. In just three years, the organization has provided an unparalleled platform for mayors across the country — leading cities large and small — to highlight successes, make city-to-city connections, and join together to make their voices heard in the national broadband debate.
As access to next-generation only continues to grow as an important issue at the local and national level in the next three years, Next Century Cities will be there to support mayors and communities leading the way to increase access for all.