Detroit’s Tech Renaissance Enhanced by Infrastructure Development

December 15, 2014
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If the burgeoning economic renaissance in the city of Detroit is to fully take root, there’s some serious infrastructure work to be done. And not just “infrastructure” in terms of fixing the crumbling roads or creating mass transportation options, like the M1 Rail streetcar project.

If the burgeoning economic renaissance in the city of Detroit is to fully take root, there’s some serious infrastructure work to be done. And not just “infrastructure” in terms of fixing the crumbling roads or creating mass transportation options, like the M1 Rail streetcar project.

Online Tech’s Metro Detroit Data Center

No, we’re talking technology infrastructure.

A recent story at FiveThirtyEight.com highlighted some of the city’s technological marvels – such as fire stations rigging fax machines to knock over soda cans full of coins. That, folks, is Detroit’s emergency communication system. Really. Check it out for yourself.

Want more? At city hall, more than 85 percent of computers are running Windows XP.

Now, the city of Detroit’s economic issues have been making national news for quite some time. And while its internal IT turmoil doesn’t directly impact the success or failure of the growing number of tech startups sprouting up in and around the city, it is an indicator of just how behind-the-times the metropolitan area is in terms of technology.

Online Tech co-CEO Yan Ness spoke of Metro Detroit’s immense potential when the company announced the opening of its 34,000-square-foot Metro Detroit Data Center.

“Our new data center brings crucial technology infrastructure to a city with an economic engine that is beginning to rumble,” Ness said in a release. “Data centers are the indispensable infrastructure for today’s U.S. companies in the same way that large factories were in the 20th century and railroads were in the 19th century.”

Online Tech has forged a relationship with another company that has a goal of elevating Detroit’s technological infrastructure. Fibertech Networks, a co-sponsor of the recent open house celebration of our Metro Detroit Data Center, has completed roughly 200 miles of its planned 800-mile fiber-optic network that will snake through the city.

(And, like Online Tech, Fibertech Networks also has a presence in Indianapolis.)

The Detroit project – offering both dark fiber and optical broadband options – is expected to be complete by the third quarter of 2015, and with anticipated build-out to end-user locations, Fibertech expects the network to reach a total of 1,000 miles in two years. It is the biggest of Fibertech’s 30 network projects around the Northeast and Midwest portion of the country.

“We definitely have the same perspective on Detroit that Online Tech has, or we wouldn’t have invested in the city,” said Fibertech Networks marketing and communications director Dan Clifton. “It was the government that declared bankruptcy, not the city. Nobody wants to see Detroit die, so we’re one of many looking to invest in Detroit.”

The Detroit-area network will pass through suburban cities of Trenton, Canton, Dearborn, Southfield, Warren and others. The company was lured to the area by an anchor client and is now preparing to market its services to universities, healthcare institutions and other multi-location organizations.

“We are excited to join other businesses in moving the needle to invest in Detroit and the state of Michigan, infusing the area with an economic development initiative that we believe will help foster telecom competition, and business and employment growth,” said Fibertech Chairman and CEO John K. Purcell.