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Can We Have Our Virtual Reality Cake And Eat It Too?

By Tim Sparapani

In the upcoming Steven Spielberg movie Ready Player One, based on the book by Ernest Cline, virtual reality is no longer a cutting-edge technology. Instead, this dystopian story shows a world where everything has moved into a VR world, including jobs, social interactions and … well, you can use your imagination.

We’re not there yet, but augmented reality, mixed reality and VR technologies are advancing at an incredible pace. These technologies are poised to revolutionize many aspects of life and create a new class of megarich investors and entrepreneurs.

Broadly speaking, virtual reality immerses the user in a different world. Its sibling, augmented reality, superimposes digital information over a user’s existing environment — think Pokémon Go, where users can catch Pokémon in the real world by finding them using their phones’ cameras. Mixed reality combines the two by placing virtual objects in the real world and letting users interact with them. (Imagine picking up a virtual block and placing it on a real table.)

I’m hugely bullish on the prospects of augmented reality, in particular. But the fact that companies will be able to collect data on individuals’ movements, eye focus and subconscious thoughts and actions with all of these technologies raises unprecedented legal questions. The ability to track every aspect of a user’s experience — including facial expressions, location and movement, what they look at and interact with and for how long, even heart rate and emotion — brings up important privacy concerns that must be addressed for consumers and society to fully realize VR’s amazing potential.

What will it mean when even our subconscious thoughts are recorded as personally identifiable information? Will we treat that data — created at our behest and for our benefit to improve our experiences — as data that requires vigorous protection? What if data recorded from my subconscious is inconsistent with my conscious attitudes or beliefs? What should companies be able to glean from our subconscious responses to new stimuli? How will companies — or the government — be able to use these new data sets, if at all? And what will happen if they get it wrong?

Luckily, these are young technologies and there is time to address these privacy concerns.

Applications for these technologies are almost endless: design and modeling, education, entertainment, even medical uses including surgery. In the near future, a Wikipedia of virtual experiences will help us understand data about the people who pass us on the street and put us a click away from seeing what it’s like to walk on the moon, live life as an ant, travel to the pyramids or swim through our own circulatory systems.

This massive potential is why giants like Intel, Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Sony and Samsung are competing to dominate the field. Facebook alone has over 400 people working on VR, and an estimated 230other companies are developing hardware and software. (Magic Leap has rightly been the belle of the ball given some of its early promise.)

Read the full story on Forbes.

CALinnovates Statement on “Morally Repugnant” Ad from the Hotel Association of New York City

SAN FRANCISCOAug. 1, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In response to an advertisement paid for by the Hotel Association of New York City, technology advocacy organization CALinnovates issued the following statement:

“It is morally repugnant to suggest an Airbnb connection to terrorism, just as it would be to tie the hotel industry to 9/11 simply because those terrorists stayed in hotels as they prepped for the attack. Let’s keep the debate between the hotel and home sharing industries to the merits, and not stoop so low as to exploit fears over terrorism.” – Mike Montgomery, Executive Director of CALinnovates

ABOUT CALINNOVATES
CALinnovates is a non-partisan technology advocacy coalition of tech companies, founders, funders and nonprofits.

This statement was originally released on PR Newswire.

Time for California to build a 5G network

By Kish Rajan

Here in California, we like to think of ourselves as being on the cutting-edge of all things technology. After all, California is home to Silicon Valley and we are the birthplace of companies like Google, Apple and Tesla.

But in one crucial area, we are at a high risk of falling behind. States like Virginia, Florida and Texas could all have state-wide 5G networks before California does.

And that’s a problem because 5G has the potential to unlock enormous economic growth, help grow new businesses and jobs, improve transportation, save energy, and greatly improve our infrastructure.

Right now, most mobile devices work on a 4G network where signals are bounced off of large cell phone towers than can a mile or more apart. This works fine. But as anyone who’s ever lost coverage or waited with growing frustration for a video to download knows, we need to upgrade these systems to keep pace with the growing demand.

4G has the potential to hit maximum speeds of 1 Gbps, but because of interference from buildings, it rarely hits those speeds. A 5G network has the potential to move data 10 times faster. Yes, that’s going to be good for consumers who want to enjoy quick downloads, but it’s so much more than that. 5G will power the infrastructure necessary to make our cities smarter.

According to a report from Accenture, new 5G-based technologies will enable intelligent transportation and energy systems – easing traffic gridlock and improving the performance of the electrical grid. These improvements alone have the potential to create $160 billion in benefits and savings. We’re already seeing the possibilities for this kind of technology in San Diego with sensors in street lights collecting data that will track air quality and improve traffic flow and parking helping the city save $2.5 million per year. Imagine that kind of innovation on a state-wide scale.

Then there’s the economic benefits of building out the network itself. Accenture predicts that 5G could result in $275 billion in investments, creating 3 million new jobs nationally and growing GDP by $500 billion.

But we’re not going to see any of that potential come to fruition if we constrain the emergence of 5G by subjecting it to the old approach to 4G regulations.

Right now, it can take up to two years to approve a permit for a cell-phone tower. But a 5G network requires 10 to 100 times more small cell antennas than a 4G network. And then different municipalities have different requirements for cell-phone antenna permits.

These old regulations make it almost impossible to build out a vibrant 5G network that could benefit everyone in our state.

That’s why states like Virginia have put new rules in place to make it easier and faster to build a 5G network. Governor Terry McAuliffe just signed a bill that creates a state-wide permit to place cell antennas on lamp posts and utility poles. Florida, Texas, Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana and Iowa are all looking at similar bills.

It’s time for California to catch up.

We have our own 5G bill making its way through the state Legislature. SB 649 will lay the ground work for a 5G network. It’s crucial that it moves quickly through the legislative process and that Gov. Jerry Brown signs it in to law. The longer we wait, the further we fall behind.

California has never taken a back seat to any other state when it comes to innovation. We must not start now. Let’s unleash our full potential and remind the country and the world what we’re made of.

Kish Rajan is chief evangelist at CALinnovates and former director of Gov. Jerry Brown’s GOBiz initiative. He can be contacted at [email protected]

This piece was originally published in the Monterey Herald.

Edibles Are The Next Big Thing For Pot Entrepreneurs

By Mike Montgomery

As more states legalize cannabis for recreational use, edibles will become a huge market for entrepreneurs. In California alone, consumers gobbled up more than $180 million worth of marijuana-infused food and drinks last year, 10% of the state’s cannabis sales, according to Arcview Market Research.

And it’s not just California that’s seeing a growing edibles market. Sales of pot-infused treats increased 121% last year in Washington state, where recreational marijuana is legal, according to cannabis analytics firm Headset Inc. And since Colorado first allowed recreational marijuana use, sales tripled from $17 million in the first quarter of 2014 to $53 million in the third quarter of 2016.

The reason for the explosive growth is that as the pot market expands, it’s starting to reach people who don’t want to smoke. Overall the smoking rate among adults is down from 20.6% in 2009 to 16.8% in 2014. Edibles provide a discrete, smoke-free experience. And since they can command higher prices, edibles often account for 25 to 60% of a dispensary’s profits.

That makes edibles an appealing slice of the pot pie, which was worth an estimated $7.2 billion in 2016, and is projected to grow up to 25% annually.

Edibles today are mostly candies, from dosed gummy bears to lollipops, where taste is an afterthought. And usually people are buying those edibles in windowless dispensaries where it can still feel very much making an illicit transaction.

Matt Fosburg, founder of Ez THC, believes that’s poised to change and that there will soon be a market for high-end cannabis candy. With a background in retail design and candy making, Fosburg wants to bring the trappings of high-end retail — quality, consistency and a great in-store experience — to the world of marijuana treats.

He believes that focusing on taste and quality will give him a competitive edge in the edibles market. While most producers melt down mass-produced chocolate to make their candy, Fosburg says he’s the first one working on an edible bar from scratch.

The process is way more labor intensive — it requires sourcing and roasting cacao beans, grinding chocolate for three to four days, then carefully tempering and molding it into bars with just the right ratio of cannabis. But Fosburg believes it’s worth the effort.

“As much as the business for edibles is coined a gold rush, it’s going to be highly competitive,” he says. “And it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. You better come to the market with a competitive product.”

Fosburg currently sells two bars in California dispensaries. One is milk chocolate with Tahitian vanilla beans. The other, dark chocolate with Maldon sea salt, took first place in its category in a recent Edibles Magazine contest.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that I make great chocolate,” Fosburg says. “But winning the award gave me credibility.”

That’s going to be crucial going forward because at $15 each, an Ez THC bar costs 20% more than a typical competitor’s bar infused with the same amount of marijuana.

But just as we’ve seen markets for food like heirloom tomatoes and artisanal pickles, Fosburg believes there will be consumers who prefer a gourmet product.

“From the beans we buy, to the THC distillate we source, every component of our bar is of the highest quality,” Fosburg says. “This is not your everyday machine-manufactured bar, but rather truly handmade.”

Based in California, Fosburg can only sell his bars through medical marijuana dispensaries right now. That will change next year when California’s Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), goes into full effect. At that point, it will be legal for entrepreneurs to open brick-and-mortar stores outside of dispensaries as long as they obtain the necessary city and state licenses.

Fosburg is working with his mentor, Richard Altuna, on creating a new kind of retail experience. Altuna, an award-winning architect who has worked with Patagonia, Restoration Hardware and The Gap, has known Fosburg since he was a kid and has complete faith in the entrepreneur. But while he’s happy to help with design, Altuna has never sampled the product.

“I’m the guy who runs out of the room when anybody starts lighting up,” he says.

Their inspiration is top chocolate makers, like Jacques Torres in New York and Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco, that have mixed-use facilities with open kitchens where customers can see the chocolate being made.

“An open-air kitchen creates transparency and authenticity in a kitchen,” says Fosburg. “I think this will really connect with today’s consumers, especially millennials.”

Even before he opens the store, Fosburg is connecting with customers of all ages through social media. The law prohibits selling marijuana online, so his digital strategy is all about marketing.

He also plans to start advertising on the popular website weedmaps.com, where customers will eventually be able to find the product and have it delivered to their homes by a courier who can take an in-person payment.

Entrepreneurs like Fosburg will go a long way toward legitimizing the cannabis industry and helping it grow into a big business.

“I want to do this to help the cannabis industry be normalized and not have this reefer madness thing they’ve been dealing with,” says Fosburg. “But if I stop having fun, or if there’s no more value in it, I’m on to the next thing. That’s the entrepreneur in me.”

Mike Montgomery is executive director of CALinnovates, a non-partisan technology advocacy coalition of tech companies, founders, funders and nonprofits.

This piece was originally published in Forbes.

The Dangers of a Geofenced Internet

By Tim Sparapani

A big part of the appeal of the World Wide Web has always been the first two words — “world” and “wide.” The internet represents an almost utopian ideal of a place where people around the globe can come together to share new ideas, create new products and even argue.

But as a privacy advocate, I fear we are rapidly hurtling toward the worst of all future states for the internet: one in which your present location dictates how much online privacy or free speech you enjoy. The current trend of carving up the country, and the globe, into an inconsistent patchwork of privacy and online speech laws benefits few and leaves too many exposed.

I’m a frequent traveler to California, and Assemblymember Ed Chau’s bill to mandate baseline privacy protections for consumers’ data got me thinking about the sorry state of privacy rights and the mistaken direction we are headed. If you are lucky enough to live in a state like California that favors privacy rights, you know that the region also favors policies that support innovation and places few limits on speech online.

But, since most of the world doesn’t live in such a digital utopia as California, many are likely to live, work and spend most of their time in a place that provides, at best, only moderate protections, while limiting what people can see, read or say online.

In the U.S., my fellow privacy advocates are seeking local regulations in reaction to failures at the federal level to enact wise data privacy and online speech policies. But Asm. Chau’s well-intentioned pro-privacy proposal is, unfortunately, only a bandage. It saps energy for the enactment of strong, nationwide policies to protect the privacy of consumers’ data — something we should all favor.

If the bill is enacted, when I visit California the ISPs I’ll encounter will protect my data more rigidly than those I use when I visit family in Wisconsin or am at my home in Washington, D.C. That leaves me less protected everywhere else and gives Californians an inflated sense of security while potentially leaving them exposed when they leave the state. That makes little sense. While I applaud California’s tradition of progressive privacy leadership, I deplore the fact that we don’t have basic privacy nationwide. For example, last year New Mexico became the 48th state to enact basic consumer protections for data breaches that leak consumers’ private data. But what about the residents of Alabama and South Dakota, or all of us when we visit those states for business or pleasure?

The danger of well-intentioned efforts that impose policy restrictions on the structure and content of the internet is real. While these proposals are laudable, personal privacy rights shouldn’t change from state to state. When Californians move around the country for work, to visit family or for vacation, they shouldn’t limit their travel based on states where they can privately and safely transmit medical or financial information, for example.

The same principle should hold true for Californians’ ability to access content or speak online as they travel the world. Restrictions in places like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China and even across the European Union mangle the internet and make a mockery of the phrase “World Wide Web.”

Don’t mistake my message — I’m not saying we should get rid of all regulations. Instead, wise policies for the internet age — the kind that made California a beacon of innovation — should favor national and global norms that protect data while encouraging free speech. Consumers shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves under the lowest common denominator of protections. Instead, meaningful privacy protections need to be baked into national law.

If anything, the legislation should include more rigorous, broader privacy protections. The legislation should apply to offline businesses as well, instead of singling out ISPs, as retailers routinely obtain similarly sensitive information. The legislation should mandate that an ISP continue protections for Californian customers no matter where they travel to when using the same ISP, so that privacy protections would follow Californians across state lines at least some of the time. It should explicitly prohibit ISPs from obtaining roughly equivalent information about their customers by buying it from other companies that have it.

Most importantly, we need to give the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of the Attorney General of California the resources they need to protect consumer privacy both off- and online. We need robust enforcement of existing privacy laws coupled with a push for strong, nationwide protections.

The real danger in the internet age is states and countries erecting barriers that turn the web into a series of fiefdoms with different rules.

California can lead by example by promoting regulations that are robust and nationwide or global. But by enacting well-intentioned limitations on privacy, it gives encouragement to other well-intentioned rules. It prevents U.S. companies from arguing that rules on the web should be universal. After all, the rules in China to limit Chinese people’s access to the internet in the name of promoting security are also well-intentioned. The same is true for calls from French and Belgian national security agencies to force back doors in encrypted software and to limit speech in the name of potentially preventing radicalization. These types of regulations are always justifiable, but they turn the World Wide Web into a broken map full of unknown consequences.

That’s a destination that none of us wants to visit.

Tim Sparapani is Senior Policy Fellow at CALinnovates, a non-partisan technology advocacy coalition of tech companies, founders, funders and nonprofits.

This Attempt to Protect Internet Users’ Privacy Should Get an Error Message: Guest Commentary

By Mike Montgomery

Sometimes a good idea can come with unintended consequences. Take. for example, Assembly Bill 375, which is working its way through the California Legislature in the last few weeks of the session.

The bill, introduced by Assemblymember Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park, is well intentioned. It aims to limit how internet service providers (also known as ISPs) can use people’s personal data. Consumers would have to give opt-in consent before the ISPs could anonymize their data and then use it to learn about trends in the marketplace or TV viewing patterns.

But here’s the problem. If the Chau bill passes, it sets different standards in California than it does in other states. And implementing a different set of rules for Californians won’t create better online privacy for consumers. If anything, it will give residents in California a false sense of security.

The rules the state Legislature is proposing only apply to ISPs. This piecemeal approach means a website or app that you use frequently or only once can still collect, share and sell your data. Those ads you see after searching for a pair of shoes or a vacation destination online? Well that information is still being tracked by sites and vendors that would not be impacted by this bill.

A patchwork of regulations creates confusion for consumers, 94 percent of whom say they want their online data subject to a consistent set of privacy rules that apply to all reaches of the internet, according to data submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Inconsistent rules create confusion for consumers as well as entrepreneurs building internet companies in California and elsewhere. The startup community, which provides immense value to our state, would prefer to focus on consistent regulations when building and growing their platforms, not whether or not they are abiding by regulations that change from state to state.

That’s why CALinnovates continues to call for a single, federal policy to protect internet privacy across the country with one set of rules for innovators to follow and consumers to understand.

There is some good news, though. Not only does the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) still have oversight of privacy rules, but Californians are already protected by our “Little FTC Act,” which allows California’s attorney general to enforce federal privacy regulations. Additionally, there are numerous federal laws protecting sensitive consumer information around things like children’s data as well as financial and health-care information.

By enacting this legislation, California also risks its position as a progressive policy leader by setting restrictions on internet companies that don’t exist in other states. The law sends a message that our state is more interested in passing laws opposing the current presidential administration than in passing laws that protect consumers and create conditions for an ongoing virtuous cycle of investment, competition and job creation.

Privacy is essential. That’s why it needs to be tackled in a comprehensive manner by Congress. We need consistent regulations around privacy that apply to everyone, and across the entire internet ecosystem, no matter what state they live in or what their business model says about data collection and use.

Mike Montgomery is executive director of CALinnovates, a non-partisan technology advocacy coalition of tech companies, founders, funders and nonprofits.

This piece was originally published in LA Daily News.

Day of Action Should Not Just Be One Day

By Mike Montgomery

As many know, today is a day of action on net neutrality. For everyone who believes in the principle of net neutrality, however, we shouldn’t reserve just one day. That’s because for nearly a decade a cloud of uncertainty has hung over the future of net neutrality. It is time for that uncertainty to end but it will take a sustained effort, not just one day of protest to fix this. For too long the fate of net neutrality has been subject to whomever sits in the White House and nominates the FCC chairperson.

As we have been saying since 2014, we need to translate today’s day of action into a sustained effort to get Congress to write into law the principles of net neutrality, which are foundational in the digital age. That will protect entrepreneurs and provide a level playing field. This isn’t a new approach for CALinnovates as it is for many engaged in the debate. We have said for 3 years that legislation is not only important, but that it is vital. As one of the first voices to argue for legislation to codify these important principles in stone, we didn’t push the easy button and accept temporary regulations.

We know there are some who don’t see it that way. They would rather rail at the FCC for once again reversing its position. But what good does that do? If a Republican is in charge, the FCC sees net neutrality implementation one way; if a Democrat is in charge, the FCC sees implementation another way. Either way the other party raises campaign funds arguing that when they are in charge next they will switch things up. Meanwhile, consumers and entrepreneurs lack certainty that legislation would provide about fair, clear rules of the internet road.

This back and forth is the worst of all worlds because it creates uncertainty: for consumers, for entrepreneurs and for the infrastructure providers. Here’s what we know: the current FCC is going to go in a different direction when it comes to net neutrality. Whether you agree with that — and there are a lot of technologists and policymakers on both sides of the issue — that’s the political reality. So where do we go from here?

CALinnovates has long sought a third-way on net neutrality — one that ensures it is a guiding principle but doesn’t lock into place provisions that freeze future innovation. A lot of the focus has been on the FCC’s use of

Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. And it’s not just CALinnovates that is concerned with Title II — a large group of Internet pioneers have raised serious concerns (the list of these tech leaders is below).

Here’s what one leader, John Perry Barlow — the co-founder of the Electronic Freedom Foundation — wrote: “Telecom regulations give a lot of leverage to organizations whether governmental or corporate to close down the right to know. My long experience says as soon as you give government the authority to impose regulations on the Internet you are doing something to frustrate the right to know. People tend to presume on theoretical grounds a little right minded regulation will help people build beneficial architectures and organizations. I do not think there is anything to support that theory. Every time I have seen any sort of regulation of the Internet the results have been mayhem. Declaring the Internet and the telephone network to be the same thing is like declaring a Buick and a symphony to be the same thing because they both make noise.”

The problem with Title II is that although it does, in theory, ensure that all data is treated equally and that companies can’t carve out fast lanes, it also opens the door to the internet being frozen into a time capsule that discourages network modernization, which supports the next wave of innovation and increased competition among providers. The digital world moves at the speed of light. To slow growth to the speed of bureaucracy would have serious negative effects on the tech industry that is continually transforming.

When others were calling for regulations, we argued for legislation. We were ahead of the curve while others engaged in the food fight that defines the net neutrality debate. Now, though, we are glad others are finally echoing what we’ve been saying since 2014. Bipartisan legislation would end for once and for all the endless cycle of FCC rule-making, litigation by those who oppose it, more FCC rule-making, repeal of FCC rule-making, protests, more protests and counter-protests. Our position hasn’t made us popular with those who profit from protest, but it has been the right thing to do the whole time. Today, we reiterate our call for Congress to enact commonsense legislation that put flexible but important principles into law that protect consumers and give some direction to entrepreneurs.

If net neutrality is as important as we all say it is, it should be the law of the land, not a political hot potato resting on the third rail of American tech policy for another decade.

Tech leaders concerned about Title II regulation of the Internet :

1. John Perry Barlow, lyricist, activitist, and co-founder EFF

2. Gordon Bell, researcher emeritus, Microsoft

3. Mark Cuban, founder, AXS TV & Owner, Dallas Mavericks

4. Tim Draper, co-founder, Draper Fisher Jurvetson

5. Tom Evslin, founder & former, CEO ITXC

6. Dave Farber, Professor Emeritus, CMU & Board Member ISOC and EFF

7. Toby Farrand, VP Engineering, Ooma

8. David Frankel, founder ZipDX, Jetstream, & HD voice pioneer

9. Martin Geddes, former BT Strategy Director

10. Charlie Giancarlo, Sr Advisor, Silver Lake & former Chief Development Officer, Cisco

11. George Gilder, futurist and author

12. John Gilmore, activist and co-founder EFF

13. Bryan Martin, Chairman and CTO, 8×8

14. Doug Humphrey, co-founder Digex, Cidera & first east coast ISP

15. Joe McMillen, founder Complex Drive & lead developer first carrier grade VoIP gateway

16. Scott McNealy, co-founder SUN Microsystems

17. Bob Metcalfe, Professor, University of Texas & co-founder 3Com, inventor of Ethernet

18. Andrew Odlyzko, Professor, University of Minnesota

19. Ray Ozzie, creator of Lotus Notes & former CTO Microsoft

20. Jeff Pulver, cofounder, Vonage & Zula

21. Sandra Rivera, VP Data Center Group and GM Network Platforms (leads SDN/5G initiatives)

22. Michael Robertson, CEO, MP3.com

23. Les Vadasz, former EVP, Intel

Mike Montgomery is Executive Director at CALinnovates.

Why Elon Musk Chose South Australia For His New Battery Project

By Mike Montgomery

When Elon Musk announced that he plans to build the world’s biggest ion battery to power to South Australia, it was a sign that the state truly has made a stunning turnaround.

Things looked grim for South Australia back in 2013, when GM announced it would stop manufacturing cars in Australia as of fall 2017.

Adelaide, the biggest city in South Australia, had prospered after World War II as a manufacturing hub for automobiles, appliances and textiles. Local industry was protected by high tariff walls — as high as 54 percent for automobiles in the 1980s. In Adelaide, the largest employers were tied to the auto industry.

That shattering 2013 announcement was a wake-up call, according to Jay Weatherill, South Australia’s premier. “It was a signal moment for us,” he says. “It’s been the impetus for massive change.”

Weatherill decided to pin the state’s future on tech and innovation rather than go looking for a volume-based manufacturing industry to replace GM. In fact, he started looking to make South Australia the next Silicon Valley.

As more cities look to reinvent themselves in the wake of factories closing, Adelaide is an appealing model. The first step was a review of commercialization and venture capital investments in South Australia. The news wasn’t good. The state received less than 0.2% of the venture capital investment in Australia. The review also found that a lack of coordination between government departments and agencies hindered private investment opportunities.

The solution was to spend money to make money. Weatherill used state funds last year to establish a $38 million venture capital fund to promote innovation, attract new VC and encourage tech companies to move to South Australia. The state also committed money to support new businesses from conception to product development and early commercialization, and gave more money to the local university’s innovation incubator to underwrite initiatives in the advanced manufacturing and engineering spaces.

South Australia also has invested in promoting its agribusiness sector and developing private export markets in high-quality foods, particularly to serve the exploding middle class in Asia. “Our wine and food are attracting huge investment from overseas,” says Andrew Cullen, managing partner of Deloitte in South Australia.

Weatherill also hired American transplant Tom Hajdu as his “Chief Advisor on Innovation.” Hajdu — founder of both music production company tomandandy and Disrupter, a Los Angeles-based startup incubator — says the state needed to upgrade its infrastructure to attract new tech businesses and the jobs that come with them. He led the effort to make Adelaide the first international city to join the Smart Gigabit Communities Program, which in part requires members to install sensors throughout the city and develop applications to connect those sensors and the data they collect to the cloud. So-called “gig cities” also have high-speed internet that is up to 100 times faster than the national average. The SA government paid $3.5 million for the upgrades.

But the biggest sign that the economy has turned the corner came in May, when all of South Australia’s efforts to modernize paid off. The Australian government picked the state as the primary location for its new defense shipbuilding program. Australia committed $66 billion to build submarines, frigates and offshore patrol vessels for the Australian navy, and to upgrade and modernize Adelaide’s existing naval shipyard. The government also will open a school in Adelaide to train shipbuilding workers.

Building and maintaining the next-generation naval fleet is expected to bring in 5,000 high-skilled, high-tech jobs, as well as thousands of other jobs in associated industries. South Australia won the bid in part by focusing on how it has morphed from rust belt to 21st century city.

“South Australia is a next generation state,” says Hajdu. “It’s the center of the new digital economy.”  If Elon Musk agrees, you know it must be true.

Mike Montgomery is the Executive Director at CALinnovates.

This piece was originally published on Forbes.

 

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