On Saturday, East Austin’s George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center held a “Let It Ring” Juneteenth celebration in advance of Tuesday’s holiday.
The event, which attracted about 600 attendees, included music, a petting zoo and games, but it was also a celebration of the Carver’s latest technological leap. The museum and library have been granted gigabit-speed Internet connectivity as part of Google Fiber and the city of Austin’s Community Connections Program, which will connect 100 organizations.
We spoke to Para Agboga, site coordinator at the Carver Museum at 1165 Angelina St., and Daniel Lucio, community Impact Manager at Google Fiber, about the Carver’s new speed boost.
512tech: What kinds of applications and programs does the Carver hope to implement with these kinds of Internet speeds?
Para Agboga: We already have a computer lab in our Genealogy Center with 12 computers. They’re free and open to the public. With that speed we don’t have to worry about people being cut off of the Wi-Fi or slow speeds. If you’ve ever done genealogy research, you know it’s really long and arduous work. A good, strong fast connection is a positive thing. It’s in a separate building from the main building, but in the same facility.
in our main buildings, we’re also hoping to eventually have a cafe for students; they can come in and do homework. Kids are getting Chromebooks and all kinds of things from school these days, we want to create an atmosphere where kids can come in and do their schoolwork and then go home... Not everybody has fast Internet at home. The Carver wants to be a bridge so they can get their work done quickly. That speed is key to that.
512tech: When Google Fiber launched, we heard a lot about ways that these speeds would facilitate art projects that may require lots of bandwidth to send video files back and forth or videoconferencing applications. Will that be part of the Carver’s plans?
Agboga: Those things are in the works for us. Several different applications that artists are bringing to our attention would be key to them to further their work. The Carver already has free space for meetings and such. We want to have a space where our artists can also do work. For years we wanted a studio. Now we want a digital studio. We want to get them what they need without interference at no cost. Those things are in the pipeline. Now that we have Google Fiber, we’re going to spend the next year seeing how we can help the community, particularly artists of color. They’ll have the access they need to keep producing wonderful art.
512tech: Did this require any major hardware upgrades or renovation?
Daniel Lucio: Our network is available in parts of East Austin. We were just getting to the Rosewood area, so it was really just taking the line across the street. It’s fortuitous it came in time for the Juneteenth celebration. We provide a wireless network spot that allows for the high-speed connection.
512tech: How far along is Google Fiber on its 100-community site mission?
Lucio: We’re at about 25 active sites. A couple of our more recent ones have been the Carver Museum and Carver Library. We connected the Vortex theater in East Austin and they’re utilizing that connection.
512tech: Do you think having Google Fiber makes the Carver a more attractive destination for patrons?
Agboga: I do. First of all, the Carver is so centrally located, it’s perfect for a lot of things anyway. When people know the speed and reliability is here and there’s no charge for that, I think it just makes us a more go-to spot. From our end, we’re pretty good at creating programs surrounding what we have. Our goal is always... like when the government says you have to do more with less? We do more with it. We create programs around it. We’re looking forward to creating these program and letting people know we’re here for them. We’re connected and we’re fast.
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