Boston Integrates Broadband-Ready Buildings Questionnaire Into Development Process
As high-speed internet access transitions from an amenity to a standard across buildings of all property types, the Boston Planning and Development Authority has taken an additional step in ensuring people stay connected. In a collaborative effort with WiredScore, the BPDA will incorporate a broadband readiness questionnaire into its Article 80 design review.
The BPDA adopted Article 80 in 1996 to provide developers with a clear and predictable list of building requirements for large projects more than 50K SF, small projects greater than 20K SF, planned development areas and institutional master plans. The requirements address a project’s impact on issues like transportation, the environment and now digital connectivity.
The questionnaire will become part of the project notification form, which developers use to detail the proposed features of the project for public comment. The Department of Innovation & Technology collaborated with the BPDA and WiredScore in generating the questions.
WiredScore began in 2013, when it forged a partnership with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City of New York to develop a way to identify buildings that provide reliable connectivity infrastructure. The company works with landlords and developers to assess telecommunications infrastructure of commercial properties using an independent set of standards.
Wired Certification criteria was developed alongside the New York City Economic Development Corp. and an advisory committee composed of leaders from major tech, telecom and real estate firms, like Google Fiber and Rudin Management.
WiredScore offers four levels of Wired Certification. The highest, Platinum Wired Certification, demonstrates a building is best in class across the features that matter most to tenants: number and quality of internet service providers, redundancy and resiliency of infrastructure, ease of installation and capacity to readily support new telecom services.
While similar in style to a LEED certification, broadband connectivity benchmarks are about equitable and reliable access to an important office resource. Since launch, more than 300M SF of commercial real estate has been Wired Certified across the United States, and demand for the digital connectivity rating has led the company's expansion to Europe, beginning with the U.K. in 2015 and France earlier this year.
In Boston, the questions designed for Article 80 do not directly fit Wired Certification criteria, which focus only on commercial buildings. They instead echo the thematic and technical elements of its standards. Both the BPDA and DoIT aim to replicate the criteria for state-of-the-art connectivity readiness, while relying on industry standard language developers will better understand.
"As we expand our portfolio into downtown Boston, we've seen significant value in ensuring that our properties are technologically equipped to serve the companies of tomorrow,"Jumbo Capital Management managing partner Jay O. Hirsh said. "We're pleased that WiredScore and the BPDA have partnered to further advocate for top-notch connectivity throughout the city, which is sure to make Boston an even more attractive destination for businesses for generations to come. We are proud to announce that we are pursuing Wired Certification for nine office properties in the Greater Boston Area."
As the Wired Certification seal gains international recognition, the BPDA and Boston’s alignment with its criteria will give the city a better understanding of how to create an inventory of buildings that are adaptable to emerging connectivity technologies. Rather than retroactively fit buildings for contemporary internet requirements, telecom infrastructure will already be in place, minimizing disruption to the public right of way during and after construction.
WiredScore’s criteria also assesses the number of individual fiber providers in a building. Having a choice of two or more wireline or fixed wireless high-speed internet service providers will foster a more competitive environment and prevent a service provider monopoly.
It is all part of the march toward a better-connected world.
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