City Administrator/City Engineer/Public Works Director
City of Harlan, Iowa
Population served: 5,100
Budget: $5 million to $10 million
Favorite technology: Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting
In 1995, Terry Cox led his city into the digital age with the construction of a Metropolitan Area Network, using ATM technology to provide high-speed data access running at 155 megabits/second—100 times faster than a traditional modem. The network provides cable television, Internet, and digital telephone services to the community. Harlan was one of the first communities in the state to incorporate this technology.
Yet Cox himself isn’t a fan of high-tech communications: “I’m at retirement age. I love communicating face to face, or in group settings. I do email. I’ve learned how to shoot a text. But I let younger people do Facebook and Twitter, and I think being on your cell phone during meetings and conferences is rude.”
Get him talking about other types of innovations, though, and he’ll admit that he loves the instant gratification of GPS and Geographic Information Systems. He’s also working to bring LED lighting to Harlan’s streets and sidewalks.
“We own our utilities, and converting the streetlights to LED will be a great energy-saver. We should save at least 50% on energy costs,” he says.
In addition to using less energy than traditional lighting, the long-lasting, nontoxic LED lights also help reduce waste, since they must be replaced less often and are recyclable. They also are brighter than traditional lights, which may help improve public safety.
The plan is to have all streetlights converted in two years. “They say that very soon LED light bulbs will last 17 years. I hope to be alive by then!” says Cox.
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