SELMA, AL (WSFA) - The city of Selma is now a smart city. City leaders hope this will be a chance to make them more competitive in the 21st Century and be a catalyst for change in the Black Belt when it comes to broadband internet.
Free wireless internet is now available in downtown Selma.
“Right now it is downtown, but next month it will be further out. We are moving very quickly,” said Mayor Darrio Melton.
Melton said expanding the city’s digital footprint is huge.
“Businesses ask, ‘How quickly can we connect to your broadband?’ and we can say as quickly as you can in Birmingham and Montgomery,” said Melton.
The deployment of 1G WiFi is expected to drive traffic here and enhance tourism.
“They can find when they come to town what is going on and what sites they need to visit. It is a tour guide through the internet and we are excited about that,” said Melton.
Selma owns it’s broadband facility. Several years ago with the 2009 bond issue, 72 strands of fiber were installed which circumferences 22 miles around the entire city.
“Broadband technology gives us the opportunity to build on an infrastructure that I think is more affordable and will make the Black Belt ready to compete in the 21st Century," said Melton.
It is a mandate for the city of Selma to provide local residents broadband internet access. In addition to that they also are pushing to help other black belt communities to do the same.
“We are doing a lot of dial up. We have internet, but it is not quickly,” said Orrvilke Mayor Louvenia Lumpkin.
Lumpkin was among those who attended Melton’s first broadband conference.
“We are a rural community and we get left out on a lot of stuff,” said Lumpkin.
With a population of about 220 Lumpkin said broadband technology could mean a big boost for the future in many areas including economic development and education.
“We would be exposed to a lot of stuff we are not being exposed to,” said Lumpkin.
She hopes to get the ball rolling on broadband service within the next two years.
For Selma, they are moving forward. In an effort to promote transparency, in just weeks, the city is planning to launch a new online data system. It will allow residents can access everything from budgets to permits.