Alpharetta tech think tank offers list of initiatives

Proposals aimed at drawing more tech companies

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. — As the self-proclaimed “Technology City of the South,” local leaders have been asked to expand Alpharetta’s reach to the tech business community. Members of the Tech Alpharetta Building Committee recently presented a “wish list” to the City Council, a list that they say will improve the city’s draw to technology companies. The city has already ascended as a major player in the technology market. It is home to almost half the top 10 technology companies in Metro Atlanta, and since 2012, the city has added more than 12,000 high-paying technology jobs. Alpharetta got to where it is, in part, due to steps it took more than two decades ago. That’s when private groups invested in fiber optic cable, all of it secured in concrete. Much of that network was backed up with more cable, providing tech businesses with a redundant source from which to operate. Add to that, the quality of life, the schools, the widening of Ga. 400 to eight lanes and the access to higher education, and Alpharetta soon became a darling location in the industry. Now, local tech business leaders want to build on that edge. “The mission of Tech Alpharetta here in the city is to grow innovation and technology,” said Karen Cashion, Tech Alpharetta CEO. She told the City Council that Tech Alpharetta’s Build Committee has spent the past year developing a list of recommendations for the necessary tech infrastructure that they believe is needed to support technologies of the future. Craig Ganssle, chairman of the Build Committee, presented four major initiatives the city may want to consider moving forward. “As we consider ourselves the Tech City of the South, a lot of these initiatives were brought by looking at solving problems or enhancing our city from a technological perspective and how it would add value to citizens, businesses and other aspects of the city,” Ganssle said.
    The list of proposed initiatives includes:
  • City WiFi: To provide publically available high-speed connectivity for retail, dining and entertainment venues. WiFi forms the foundation for the connected, educated and engaged populace.
  • My Town app: To improve public awareness of Alpharetta amenities and increase community engagement between public and elected officials.
  • Electric and/or autonomous shuttle: To move people between pre-set shuttle stops near high traffic/frequently visited areas such as Avalon, City Center, Windward Parkway. (Downtown Chattanooga provides free electric shuttles)
  • Electric bike bikeshare rental program: Programs is successfully underway in Baltimore and Birmingham.
Ganssle said information assembled for the initiatives is preliminary and that costs are early estimates. “There is much further research needed in a couple of these initiatives to really dive into what the actual costs would be,” he said. “But, we felt that it would behoove to present to City Council some kind of idea of what you’re looking at when you’re proposing initiatives like this.” City officials said they are still far from pulling the trigger on any of the initiatives, but it helps to have a practical plan to draw from.

 
 

180 INITIATIVES COST/BENEFIT

City WIFI
Values
  • Creates the base infrastructure to support all othe IoT initiatives
  • Builds a reputation on technology value to the city with content filtering and security for its users
  • Creates an ROI to the city from a marketing platform
Costs
  • One-time development costs estimated at $700K
  • Annual recurring cost estimated at $160K
  • Includes 10Gb fiber backbone, 802.11ac Gigabit rated wireless, full-stack content filtering, full-stack IDS/IPS and Advanced Security Firewall
My Town app
Values
  • Allows citizen involvement. Enables immediate alert messaging
  • Serves residents, guests and commuting workers
  • Served to the city as a managed service, always current and up to date
Costs
  • Support iOS and Android, one-time development costs estimated at $300K
  • Annual recurring development and management costs estimated at $65K
Electric/Autonomous Shuttle
Value
  • Potentially alleviate traffic congestion and eliminate the need for MARTA extension
Costs
  • Startup cost per shuttle: $15,000 - $30,000 (one time)
  • Leasing cost per shuttle: $10,000 - $15,000/mo.
  • Other operating cost per shuttle: $2,500 - $5,000/mo.
  • Traffic monitoring system per mile: $10,000 - $20,000/mile
  • Alpharetta shuttle app: $2,500/mo
Electric Bike Share
Values
  • Less traffic congestion, low emissions, ease of commutes
  • Potential revenue source from rentals, partnerships and advertising
Costs
  • Private operators offer about 85-90 bikes, two docking stations per bike, 8-10 parking stations/kiosks, app with GPS tracking for $400,000 - $500,000
  • Option 1 - $250,000 - $275,000 annual cost that includes operating the kiosks, app and maintenance of infrastructure. Advertising and rider revenue is city's income
  • Option 2 - $0 annual cost, but all revenue from riders' fees and advertising is private operator's income
 
  Source: Tech Alpharetta  


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