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How Kansas City Caught Google's Eye



    Just how does a city in the Midwest become the apple of Google's eye? By playing it straight.

    While cities across the country were promising to name their city after Google or sacrifice their first born in honor of the mighty Mountain View-based company -- the last one actually never happened thankfully -- Kansas City, Kansas offered itself as it is.

    The city of more than 145,000 was selected this week to be the first recipient of Google's ultra high-speed fiber project.

    But with more than 1,000 cities vying for Google's love, how did Kansas City, Kansas attract Google's eye?

    Kansas City Spokesman Edwin Birch said his city didn't get involved with the cute gimmicks that some other cities used to try and win the service.

    "The only thing we didn't do were some of the things that got a lot of attention from the media," he said. "They were cool but that wasn't our approach."

    Instead he said Kansas City submitted a straight forward application, highlighting some of the cities strengths, including an innovative program that put 5,000 laptop computers in the hands of high school students in the city.

    Then the waiting process began. Birch said Kansas City had no contact with Google until it got close to decision time.

    The first word Kansas City got from Google was that the city was being reviewed with along with several other unnamed cities.

    Then in late January, Google held conference call with the city to asks some questions and get some more information.

    "Never did they communicate to us that we were being chosen," Birch said. "Basically again it was an arm's length conversation."

    The search giant began contacting city engineers, architects and the local public utilities commission to look at potential infrastructure problems.

    Finally this week Google announced that it had selected Kansas City, Kansas as the guinea pig for its lighting-quick Internet service.

    What comes next is still a question mark though.

    Google says it will start holding community meetings before it starts laying down the infrastructure for the new service.

    Schools and government buildings will get free access to the fiber cable and the city hopes by 2012 some pockets of Kansas City will have access to Google's Internet.

    If the pilot program works, Google has said it would like to roll out the service in other cities, all of which could learn from Kansas City on how to pitch Google.