(Photo by Andrew Hazlett)
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has hired Jason Hardebeck to work on internet access issues for the city.
Hardebeck will serve as “Broadband Coordinator” for the city. He recently left his role as director of DreamIt Health Baltimore. The mayor made the announcement at a weekly media availability at City Hall.
“I am confident that under his leadership, Baltimore City will take a greater advantage of emerging technologies, to become a smarter city,” Rawlings-Blake said.
After selling his social networking company WhoGlue to Facebook in 2011, Hardebeck took on more tech community-oriented projects. He was executive director of the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and cofounded the Baltimore Foundery makerspace. As director of DreamIt Health Baltimore, Hardebeck moved the health startup-focused accelerator into new offices above Power Plant Live! DreamIt Ventures, which is based in Philadelphia, has yet to name a new director.
Hardebeck’s new role with the city was preceded by a stint serving as a co-chair of the Smarter Baltimore Task Force, which released a report filled with recommendations for how to improve internet access in the city. The final version of the Smarter City report was also released on Wednesday.
Hardebeck said the job is designed to “to pick up and implement where the task force report leaves off.”
“I expect the position will evolve as new ideas and opportunities arise as well,” he told Technical.ly.
The task force called for the city to provide fiber internet to all city public schools, develop a “dark fiber” leasing program and use spare underground transportation conduits to extend Broadband access to new areas.
Operationally, the report called on the city to hire a broadband coordinator to implement the recommendations.
In addition to Hardebeck’s appointment, the city’s Board of Estimates on Wednesday approved $100,000 for the “Smarter City Initiative.”
From the Board of Estimates agenda:
This initiative will provide oversight and coordination of the Baltimore City fiber assets, including City-owned and controlled, as well as other public and private assets, creating metrics to establish benchmarks for broadband in Baltimore City, developing pilot projects in coordination with MOIT and City agencies to demonstrate the viability of using the City’s owned and peered assets to enable broadband deployment.