This article was originally published by Ann-Marie Grissino on

Imagine entering your home, lights and A/C perfectly timed to come on, your smart phone having searched for and now playing your favorite music, and searches across smart TVs in your home resulting in techno news scheduled to start after dinner. All your smart devices are connected throughout your home.

Then, think bigger.

Emergency responders across several communities could be connected via video streaming, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR), making disaster events less chaotic with real-time, cross-agency collaboration.

Showing North Carolina’s potential for innovation and entrepreneurship in full tilt, industry and civic leaders challenged the best minds in the state Tuesday to present solutions to problems that our leaders in healthcare, public safety, transportation and education face. The solutions will be enabled by gigabit-speed fiber, the Internet of Things and massive connections of smart devices.

US Ignite, a local organization funded by the National Science Foundation, along with RIoT (formerly known as the NC Regional Internet of Things), New City Ventures, Triad-based Internet Service Provider North State Communications and the North Carolina Next Generation Network, delivered a video-simulcast from Greensboro, Charlotte, and Raleigh. The local meeting was held at HQ Raleigh, a company devoted to fostering communities of entrepreneurs.

At this tri-city event, organizations discussed the challenges that N.C. faces and how the futures of N.C. public safety, healthcare, transportation management, and education will benefit from super-fast, gigabit fiber.

Starting the meeting, Jeff Sural, acting general counsel and director of the Broadband Infrastructure Office at the NC Department of Information Technology, described the state’s broadband plan (, next-generation 911 management, electrical co-operative needs and the need for broadband interagency groups.

Citing the existing 18 national smart cities, Scott Turnbull from US Ignite told attendees that gigabit speed, low latency traffic resulting from gigabit fiber and software-defined, secure networks will transform our communities into smart cities. Our smart cities will become hubs of connected health, safety, and transportation organizations.

N.C. Next Generation Network Program Director Dennis Newman described their mission to accelerate high speed broadband acceptance in N.C. to ultimately improve education, transportation and healthcare communication in our communities.  Newman stated that participants in the challenge are pioneers for the future of N.C.

These organizations and more have come together to offer their expertise, funding and resources to N.C. developers, designers, entrepreneurs and scientists as they identify problems in one of four areas and describe their application-based solutions:

  1. How can improved video streaming and collaboration impact mid-size businesses, educational institutions and entertainment organizations?
  2. What new strategies can help us manage the digital infrastructure of our homes? The number of smart devices in our homes is increasing. How can we manage these currently disparate services?
  3. How can automated traffic cameras and management result in the reduction of traffic accidents and pedestrian or bicycle rider safety?
  4. How can we better align traffic management, environment and public health organizations across municipal boundaries and use real-time video and data to improve outcomes?

The challenge is to create what the US Ignite team calls a “reverse pitch.” Typically, application providers are given the problem and the solution details; however, in a reverse pitch you pitch the specific problem and offer the solution.

Instructional Designer at New City Ventures Joel Bennett explained the process of outlining solutions and submitting reverse pitch applications to US Ignite at, the application portal. Another reverse pitch sponsor, North State Communications EVP and Chief Marketing Officer Scott Watts, talked about a reverse pitch that he is working on that he hopes will enhance authentication, storage and searches across the digital home infrastructure.

The reverse pitch competition includes two rounds of judging. First-round judges will select up to ten finalists. These ten finalists join in round two, where judges will select up to three top winners, who will each receive $139,000 to seed their solutions.

For each round, finalists also receive IBM® Cloud credits that provide no-charge access to the IBM Watson IoT™ platform via IBM Bluemix®, an application development platform. Michael Gilbert offered his IBM Bluemix team’s expertise to “help take your vision to life.” His team will provide access to demos, explain SDKs and APIs, make development easier and connect submitters with others who can help fine-tune their pitches.

Important dates are:

March 9: Another US Ignite information session
April 3: Application deadline
Early June: Pitches presented to judges

Twitter: #GigabitPitch, #GigaPitch, @US_Ignite