This article was originally published on TimesFreePress.com.
Two innovations for which Chattanooga is well known, the Tennessee Aquarium and EPB’s high-speed Internet, have joined together to give the city another first.
Chattanooga on Tuesday became the world’s first city to use live ultra-high definition video for tourism as it began to transmit from the aquarium’s alligator exhibit.
A 98-inch Planar UltraRes 4K display screen was unveiled at the lobby of Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport where live video will be shown from the aquarium for about 12 hours a day. Other high-def video of Chattanooga locations will be shown the rest of the time.
Patti Van Bruggen of Nokia Corp. said use of the technology for tourism is “new and unique,” adding that the company has teamed with EPB’s gigabit network for the display.
“We look for exciting projects and new business models,” she said of the Finnish technology company.
Ken Hays, president of Chattanooga’s Enterprise Center, said the set-up’s cost is about $20,000 and is funded by the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau and Nokia.
“It’s not every day we get to experience state-of-the-art tourism,” he said.
Bob Doak, president of the local tourism bureau, said visitors spend more than $1 billion annually in Hamilton County.
“We want to continue to provide new experiences for them — and what a great way to greet them when they arrive at the Chattanooga Airport,” he said.
Terry Hart, the airport’s CEO, said that one of Lovell Field’s goals is to immerse visitors in the Chattanooga experience as soon as they touch down in the city.
“We’re the gateway to Chattanooga,” he said. “This high definition display is one of the ways to continue to show travelers why Chattanooga is internationally recognized as a truly innovative city.”
The Tennessee Aquarium’s new CEO, Keith Sanford, said that viewing alligators in real-time will give travelers a first glimpse of what’s waiting for them downtown at the attraction.
“The exposure is exciting to the aquarium,” he said.
Shortly after Sanford’s remarks, aquarium staffers showed what it looks like when it’s feeding time for the alligators.
Officials at the attraction, which opened in 1992 as the world’s largest freshwater aquarium, are looking at showing off other parts of the facility as well. EPB’s fiber optic network delivers the nation’s fastest Internet speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second.
Doak said people want to move to and live in a city where “there’s a lot going on.”
“We’re a cool and hip city,” he said. “We’ll continue to be innovators.”