Cincinnati to Columbus Connectivity Corridor Will Catalyze Regional Growth

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Columbus has been recognized for efforts revolving around the USDOT Smart Cities Challenge that has launched smart mobility efforts throughout the Columbus metropolitan area and beyond. Projects focusing on smarter public transit, driverless cars and delivery trucks, and smart and connected roadways have been driving these conversations and deployment strategies. The working group in Cincinnati has been carrying on an active dialogue to extend those efforts by creating a smart and connected corridor in Cincinnati, and eventually a connectivity corridor stretching from Greater Cincinnati to Greater Columbus, linking together the relative smart city projects. Conversations with Newport, Covington, Louisville, Lexington, Lawrenceburg, Indianapolis, Fishers, Dayton, Mason, Lebanon, Middletown and other regional cities have started to take shape around regional smart and connected corridors that promote interconnected mobility solutions for people, goods, and utilities. This broad vision will be laid out for the public at the first Smart Regions Conference on October 25th.

In April, Cincinnati's "Smart Cincy" group hosted the largest gathering of leaders in the Midwest to-date discussing new and emerging solutions at the Smart Cincy Summit. Several speakers and panels focused exclusively on mobility, discussing topics across the spectrum from improving public transit to next generation transportation infrastructure. Of course these presentations included autonomous and driverless vehicles, Hyperloop or Tube Transportation, and drones or UAV's. Although the technology talk was exciting, much of the conversation revolved around connecting people to opportunities and solving for existing and emerging first and last mile barriers. Amazon, DHL, CVG, and other Greater Cincinnati business community leaders are committed to identifying and implementing these new solutions that use technology as a tool to optimize or altogether replace our outdated systems and infrastructure. Implementing these solutions will not only bolster the business community, but they will also enhance and promote local economic development and social mobility for residents regardless of socioeconomic or geographical barriers.

At the Smart Cincy Summit in April, Mitch Kominsky  from Venture Smarter hosted panelists to discuss Mobility in Smart Cities. Panelists included D Worthington from Loop Global, Pete Metz from the Cincy Regional Chamber, Dr Jonathan Corey from University of Cincinnati, Lyden Foust from, and Rhonda Binda from Venture Smarter.

At the Smart Cincy Summit in April, Mitch Kominsky  from Venture Smarter hosted panelists to discuss Mobility in Smart Cities. Panelists included D Worthington from Loop Global, Pete Metz from the Cincy Regional Chamber, Dr Jonathan Corey from University of Cincinnati, Lyden Foust from, and Rhonda Binda from Venture Smarter.

Since early 2016 Smart Cincy leadership has been working to create a cohesive regional conversation around the pillars of smart city planning. We have hosted leaders from USDOT, ODOT, and dozens of other states to shine a light on the regional plan centered around a collaborative framework. A foundational layer of connectivity will allow mobility, security, and sustainability solutions to be implemented to improve the quality of life for residents and guests. The issues we are solving for in Cincinnati range from connecting people to the 74,000 jobs that are inaccessible via public transit to improving the quality of air in our urban cores and reducing unnecessary traffic congestion. These conversations cannot happen in a silo, and planning must not be driven by vendors, but instead by the community and leaders coming together around an action plan that considers our available resources and addressable opportunity areas. Cincinnati's efforts have not gone unnoticed, as leaders in City Hall have been taking active steps to create an open and transparent government focused on using data to drive best-practices planning decisions. Surrounding cities are hard at work, as well. The City of Newport has already deployed smart city kiosks and infrastucture and several neighborhoods have already launched free public WiFi and open data initiatives. The City of Hamilton was among the first in the nation to launch a City as a Lab program, and Covington was among the first to integrate a dedicated innovation corridor. All of the pieces seem to be coming together, and will soon be solidified with local and regional legislation.

Cincinnati is on the fast track to becoming the epicenter of the smartest Tri state region in the country. Recent activity includes

  • Cincy Red Bike (bikeshare program)
  • OKI Regional Council of Governments hired Robyn Bancroft to lead technology planning
  • Cincinnati's Office of Data and Performance Analytics launched Cincy Insights and Cincy Stat
  • University of Cincinnati is preparing to launch an Urban Futures Institute
  • University of Cincinnati is preparing to launch an Advanced Transportation and Technology Center
  • Nexigen has created connectivity clusters in Newport, Lawrenceburg, and other neighborhoods to defeat the digital divide
  • Venture Smarter leads smart city standards conversations with IEEE Standards Association and Smart Cities Council
  • Cincinnati Bell Light Up efforts have realized nearly 500 wireless access points for free public WiFi throughout Cincinnati
  • Powernet Light Up has focused on connecting the region's most at need residents and businesses with internet and connectivity solutions
  • Hyperloop UC has won awards for research and development efforts around Tube Transportation and next generation transportation infrastructure
  • CONFLUENCE leads nationwide Water Cluster efforts
  • Hamilton launches Hamilton Mill and Pipeline H2O
  • CVG renovates and adds airlines
  • Amazon moves in
  • Toyota moves in
  • The list goes on!

If all goes as planned Greater Cincinnati will lead the Smart Regions conversation worldwide. Already, innovators in the region have launched an effort to create smart city technology and planning standards to promote interoperability, a community matching fund to enhance smart city project grants, a community engagement platform to represent the wants and needs to residents, and a leadership team to drive these conversations forward around shared regional goals. Ultimately, Smart Cincy is working to give leaders the tools and capacity to pursue smart city growth, enhancing the workability and livability of our region.

Some breakthrough objectives will be enabled by policy and community support, and Public Private Partnerships will ultimately allow the smart city visions to be realized at scale. Challenges include legislative barriers, existing data and process silos, and project financing. All of which will be addressed and surveyed in Smart Cincy's first Annual Report coming October 2017.

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Written by: Zack Huhn, Founder, Venture Smarter
Zack is on the Smart Cincy leadership team and has been leading efforts behind Regional Smart Cities Initiatives across the country