Smart Communities Team

Sustainable economic development, growth, opportunity and innovation are dependent on affordable high speed internet access.  Having a shared vision among all of the Polk County communities helps to ensure the alignment of broadband infrastructure necessary to meet the growing demand.

The Smart Communities LEAD Team continues its work in educating and building community consensus around the vital importance of a robust broadband network to support Polk County’s economic growth and prosperity.


Affordable, accessible high-speed internet facilitates many critical activities:

  • Enables small business to compete in a global marketplace
  • Means safer streets and communities
  • Supports research and training at colleges and universities
  • Greater opportunities for our students
  • Better, faster, more effective healthcare

The Smart Communities Team aided by the Government Advisory Team drafted a formal Resolution supporting broadband expansion that has been adopted by:

  • City of Auburndale
  • City of Bartow
  • City of Davenport
  • City of Fort Meade
  • City of Haines City
  • City of Lake Alfred
  • City of Lake Wales
  • City of Lakeland
  • City of Polk City
  • City of Winter Haven
  • Polk County BoCC
  • Town of Dundee

The Smart Communities Team seeks to identify ways to leverage technology and broadband infrastructure to solve problems that exist in our county. In order to attract STEM jobs we must have the infrastructure in place to accommodate the needs of these businesses. These businesses will need skilled labor. As the Polk County Public School District continues to increase bandwidth to its individual schools, our students will have greater learning opportunities and better testing environments. With the expansion of the municipal fiber network we are laying the groundwork to support future technologies such as: 5g networks, better data collection resulting in improved delivery of services, and improved public safety.  There are many opportunities for collaboration with other teams on a variety of topics. Polk County could leverage smart technology to improve traffic flows, better use of power, water, and other consumable resources. There is virtually no limit to the ways that technology can be used to solve the problems our county faces. We must be forward thinking when addressing our problems, in order to achieve the progress we so desire.

-Chad Tagtow, CIO & Senior Vice President, Citizens Bank & Trust


Polk County ranks in the bottom 25 in the nation for high speed internet use (358th of 381)(American Community Survey, 2013)

Bottom 10 in the nation for STEM jobs

(91st of 100) (WalletHub, 2014)

Bottom 10 in the nation for households with broadband subscriptions

(94th of 100) (Brookings, 2014)

Click Image to View The Smart Communities 2016 Brochure 

Click on image to view the Polk County Broadband Plan 

Marybeth Soderstrom - Co-Chair, Central Florida Regional Planning Council

Chad Tagtow - Co-Chair, Citizens Bank & Trust

Tina Barrios, Ph.D. - Polk County Public Schools

Stacy Bolton - Lakeland Regional Health

Terry Brigman - Community Volunteer

Frank Canovaca - City of Bartow

Steven Elias - Pennoni

Ercan Elibol - Florida Polytechnic University

Jee Hoon Kim - City of Auburndale

Eric Labbe - City of Winter Haven

Doug Lewis - Polk County BoCC

Tracy Mercer - City of Winter Haven

Paul Meyer - City of Lakeland

Hiep Nguyen - City of Winter Haven

Nick Nicholas - DSM

Brian Ross - City of Haines City

Bob Stack - Polk State College




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