The company expects to devote more than $5 billion to construction and eventually create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs at its HQ2. Such an investment would bring unbelievable opportunity to my part of the city.
The Anacostia pitch for HQ2 is helped by progress that is already happening. This includes the first phase of the redevelopment of St. Elizabeths Hospital and the new sports and entertainment arena.
Whether Amazon chooses us or not, the bidding process has taught us that we must do more to meet the technology needs of citizens and existing businesses and those we want to attract. That includes ensuring we have the necessary infrastructure in place to support fifth-generation wireless systems known as “5G.” For instance, Amazon’s request for HQ2 proposals calls for “optimal fiber connectivity” and first-rate cellular service.
5G service will allow data to move 10 times faster than current 4G systems and is expected to help foster a host of advancements, such as driverless cars, which will require state-of-the-art wireless infrastructure. 5G will also have an impact on small businesses, as they rely on mobile payment systems.
The cellular network is going to get better once we have this infrastructure in place. Smart phones will work faster during our everyday lives and during big events where capacity now is stretched thin.
As more people move into all parts of the District, they want to know they can reach 911 when they need it. Nationally, more than 50 percent of households do not have a landline, and 80 percent of all 911 calls are now estimated to originate from a cellphone. Our wireless infrastructure must keep pace to enable us to receive emergency assistance as fast as possible.
Private companies investing in neighborhoods will build this infrastructure, and they are currently working with the D.C. government to determine the process for installation. Because Wards 7 and 8 will benefit from this technology as part of a District-wide deployment plan, I encourage community partners across all the city’s wards to work together to avoid delays.
The Anacostia Waterfront Trust and the National Park Service have declared 2018 the Year of the Anacostia. Let’s continue to build on this theme by landing HQ2 and improving technology.
Stanley Jackson is president and chief executive of the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation.