Technology groups band together to lure massive Internet conference
By Zachary S. Fagenson
Technology groups in Miami-Dade and South Florida look to be banding together to bring one of the biggest technology conferences in the world here and hopefully put South Florida's technology cluster on the map.
Internet Coast, a non-profit regional technology industry group, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's Technology and Bioscience Committee and convention and visitors bureaus from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are linking up to submit a bid for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers annual conference.
"Literally, the leaders from around the world that are part of the registrars of domain names come to this conference and it's literally thousands of individuals and a very big deal in the industry," said Ralph MacNamara, chair of Internet Coast and director of client service for accounting firm Kaufman Rossin & Co.
The California-based nonprofit was formed in 1998 and is responsible for managing the naming system that identifies each computer around the world.
"ICANN doesn't control content on the Internet," according to its website. "It cannot stop spam and it doesn't deal with access to the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet's naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet."
The process to landing the conference is similar to securing a Super Bowl or the county's ongoing bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup tournament.
"We're talking literally this afternoon with consultants that hosted this event in Latin America to learn more as to why they were chosen and how the process worked and what specific idiosyncrasies are involved in attracting and hosting," Mr. MacNamara said Monday.
Though the organization won't begin considering applicants for the 2012 conference until the location of the 2011 conference is selected, members of the industry as well as convention and visitors bureaus from the three counties are starting to talk about how to submit their pitch for the conference.
And it's not certain in which county they will propose the conference be held.
"Once we look at particulars of the request for proposals we would then narrow the scope of who has infrastructure and capabilities," Mr. MacNamara said.
This conference, however, has a unique set of requirements.
It's "intended to be a very democratic organization in the sense that they really encourage and want people of all walks of life involved," said Kevin Levy, a shareholder at the Gunster law firm and chair of the chamber's technology committee. The conference "requires seven hotels within walking distance, all with Wi-Fi with a various range of prices so nobody feels shut out from attending."
And while securing the conference would help draw the eyes of the technology world toward Miami, getting all the members of the industry together to support such an effort still poses a challenge.
At the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's goals conference in June the technology committee agreed to pursue greater collaboration among the technology companies and industry groups based in South Florida.
Most recently, Mr. Levy said, about 20 leaders of South Florida technology groups met at dinner and will soon exchange calendars so everyone has names of South Florida technology firms to cross-promote.
"The only way to start is to get everyone on the same page," he said, "so that when major events in this city happen, such as the chamber's annual technology awards or when an ICANN conference comes, we will have exposure to as many of these technology companies as possible."