Simple Way to Create Jobs
Governments, whether local, state, regional, or national, are always looking for ways to generate more jobs. More jobs means less unemployment, which has historically means less crime. More jobs injects new wages into the economy, which results in more spending (more economic activity), which ultimately means more tax revenues for the goods and services provided by government. It is easy to see why governments are constantly looking for ways to support job creation.
For years, governments have looked to Silicon Valley as a job creation template. Technology and innovation have been the path to creating untold numbers of jobs and untold amounts of wealth through many, many years. All across the world little copies of Silicon Valley sprouted – some more successful than others – in the ongoing attempt to create jobs.
New York City is currently attempting to create jobs with an excellent idea: free ubiquitous connection to the internet throughout the city. On April 30, 2014, the City issued a request for proposals to create a city-wide WiFi system [NYC Muni WiFi RFP]. This idea has been in the works for a while. New York gathered information two years ago, which resulted in the current plan of using the pay phone infrastructure throughout the city for WiFi and other possible services.
Free and ubiquitous connection to the internet is the single best thing that any entity attempting to create innovation and the resulting technology jobs can offer. It shows that the area is very friendly to technology – something that will attract the geeks who create new tech companies. It also cuts to zero one of the primary early costs of creating a new company – the cost of connection to the world community of technologists.
In today’s world, innovation requires collaboration of far-flung teams. Software developers download tools as needed via the internet rather than purchasing tools on disk. Virtual meetings occur via the internet rather than expensive travel to physical meetings.
There are sure to be major political forces brought to bear against this plan. For example, each of the mobile phone carriers earn obscene amounts by selling mobile data plans that citizens of New York would no longer need. So whether or not the WiFi network ultimately is built certainly remains in doubt.
I don’t know if NYC’s primary goal for the free WiFi project is job creation. There are great advantages to existing businesses and citizens to having a free, always-available internet connection as well. But I will be watching closely to see whether New York suddenly becomes a jobs engine once (if?) the system is in place.