Civic Cloud

Problem Statement

Burlington has a super fast network throughout the city. Even if local groups, organizations, or individuals can get access to the internet and city network at insanely fast speeds, this does not guarantee ready access to the sorts of infrastructure a website, web application, backup system, data library, or private communications system might require. In short, the high-speed internet Burlington is so lucky to have is one part of the whole, when talking about building and deploying digital services.

Project Summary

The Civic Cloud provides the raw infrastructure upon which to build the rest, or at least many, of the remaining services that might be needed or wanted. The Civic Cloud is only available for use by the local government, educational entities, local non-profits, NGOs, and local Burlingtonians doing civic oriented non-profit projects. For example, the Code For BTV website runs on the Civic Cloud!

Technical Proposal

The Civic Cloud Collaborative colocated a server rack within Burlington Telecom’s gigabit network. Using this server rack, the Civic Cloud Collaborative makes cloud computing resources available for non-commercial Internet applications with a focus on public, educational, and government access. With an uplink to Burlington Telecom’s gigabit network, the Civic Cloud provides the infrastructure on which to deploy next-generation Internet applications. The Civic Cloud is be a platform for collaborative innovation while demonstrating the potential of Burlington’s gigabit network.

The Civic Cloud offers services similar to Amazon's AWS suite by running the OpenStack system on a cluster of hardware donated from various locations. The OpenStack system was built by, and is maintained by the network administrators that run Burlington's CCTV Center for Media & Democracy.

Original Proposal's Detailed Overview

Burlington has one of a handful of gigabit networks in the country. These gigabit networks are islands of super-fast connectivity. It is only within (and to some extent between) these networks that the true potential of gigabit can currently be realized. Until the rest of the Internet catches up, the potential of Burlington Telecom’s gigabit network can only be realized with applications deployed inside the network.

As a US Ignite Partner, the City of Burlington is looking to showcase next-generation Internet applications that provide transformative public benefit in the areas of education & workforce, energy, health, public safety, transportation, and advanced manufacturing. Applications focused on any of these areas could be hosted in the Civic Cloud.

One unique benefit of the Civic Cloud would be in the area of public safety. The Vermont Digital Economy Project has found that communities with digitally connected non-governmental organizations are more resilient after natural disasters such as Tropical Storm Irene. Collaborating with the Vermont Digital Economy Project, volunteers working with Code for BTV, a Code for America Brigade, have built or improved websites for several non-governmental organizations and plan to work on many more of these websites. Hosting these websites in the Civic Cloud would help make the communities served by these non-governmental organizations more resilient to natural disasters.

Many organizations lost a great deal of data during Tropical Storm Irene including donor lists, photos, and other information critical to their operations. In addition to web hosting, services such as cloud storage and cloud backup could be provided in the Civic Cloud. Cloud hosting, cloud storage, and cloud backup services available to Vermont’s non-governmental organizations (and possibly local governments) would make Vermont a leader in resilience to natural disasters.


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