Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
If you're looking to launch a tech start-up in New York City, you'll want to check this first.
It's probably a testament to the success of LEED that the green-building certification system has now become the standard analogy for how we think about nearly everything that can be measured and rated in buildings (not unlike all of the Airbnb analogies... which would make LEED the Airbnb of the built world). This latest iteration in particular sounds like a smart, scalable one: On Monday, New York City announced a kind of "LEED for broadband," leveraging the familiar rating system to make clear exactly how high-speed this vital infrastructure is in commercial properties across town.
Here's how the city describes the certification, more formally called WiredNYC:
This program will create transparency about broadband infrastructure in the commercial real estate market, giving businesses information about a building’s connectivity when choosing where to locate, and allowing landlords to market their buildings’ assets and compete for tenants.
If you want to launch, say, a tech company that requires massive bandwidth, this database would now be a great place to start. The certification uses a four-tiered rating system of platinum (includes fiber access), gold ("strong likelihood of multiple high-speed broadband providers"), silver ("adequate" for a majority of commercial tenants) and "connected" ("sufficient" connectivity for low-tech businesses). And the tool offers, as GigaOm points out, the hyper-local, address-level transparency that has thus far eluded federal efforts at mapping broadband access.
So far, the city says 10 of New York's largest real estate owners have committed to participating, covering 100 million square feet of office space in the city.
This level of transparency should help both landlords and cities looking to lure more tech companies, while also promoting the importance of broadband for economic development (and highlighting those properties and parts of town that haven't kept pace). Of all of the initiatives Michael Bloomberg is rolling out in his last days in office, this one certainly seems worth stealing in other cities.