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The New New Orleans

I think this is a terrific idea (subscription required):

As crews rush to restore basic telephone and Internet services to areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, some executives, academics and analysts are urging a more ambitious approach: Make New Orleans and the surrounding areas super-connected communities, with advanced services that surpass what is available anywhere in the country, if not the world.

Talk about making lemonade out of lemons! I would think that high tech companies, academic researchers, and government R&D types would jump at the chance to create a city of the future. And I’ll bet it could be done without a lot of additional government expense.

“The area ought to be a beacon for 21st-century communications in the United States,” said Rey Ramsey, chief executive of One Economy Corp., a nonprofit organization that helps bring high-speed Internet service to inner-city communities. “We ought to go state of the art, and state of the art with a purpose.”

Ramsey, who also is chairman of Habitat for Humanity International, said recreating New Orleans as a technology and communications mecca could be a key to its revival, drawing back shuttered businesses that are considering relocating and attracting new ones.

In addition, he said, “there needs to be an intentional effort to make sure that these benefits extend to poor people directly.”

Somebody is really thinking ahead. And thinking with purpose. And I don’t think this is “pie in the sky” stuff, either.

Read the whole article. Not everyone is as enthused as Ramsey, but this really seems like a good idea.

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