Smart Cincy: City to install "fiber ring" downtown

Smart Cincy Cincinnati Fiber Ring

CINCINNATI – As part of the comprehensive effort to transform Cincinnati into a smarter city, the City of Cincinnati will install a new ‘fiber ring’ around the entire Central Business District.

This system is being built to greatly improve the way traffic signals are managed and modified. It also presents an excellent opportunity to light up Downtown with free Wi-Fi and for the City to explore novel partnerships with businesses that would benefit from use of the fiber network.

This upgrade to fiber for the Downtown traffic-communications system is one of several smart city (or “Smart Cincy”) initiatives the Administration is aggressively pursuing. Others include the Smart Cincy RFP and the development of a comprehensive Mobility app, both of which are underway.

“Organizations, and especially local governments, that are not using technology and data to innovate and enhance the customer experience are destined for irrelevancy,” wrote City Manager Harry Black in a formal memo sent Thursday. “The effort to continue to transform the City of Cincinnati into a truly smart city is simply not possible without the continued vision and support offered by the Mayor and City Council.”

This new grid will replace Downtown’s current analog traffic-control communications system and will connect to the City’s existing municipal fiber grid, which facilitates communications for all city departments including emergency services.

The upgrade to fiber will provide the Department of Transportation & Engineering greater flexibility as well as improve reliability and reduce service times for signal changes and adjustments.  

The system will also update all traffic signal controllers and include video cameras for traffic monitoring and counting purposes at key locations throughout Downtown.

In addition to modernizing the City’s traffic signal system, the project will include additional conduits vital to other Smart Cincy initiatives, and will be leased to other utilities or businesses. The additional capacity will also facilitate the ability to respond to future innovations when available – think connected and/or autonomous vehicles, etc. – and assist with improving the Cincinnati's overall economic competitiveness. 

Project Scope & Timeline

Crews will install approximately 20,000 feet of underground conduit and fiber optic cable around the perimeter of Downtown, specifically along Central Avenue, Central Parkway, Broadway and Second Street, as well as east-west along Sixth Street and north-south on Vine Street.

Remaining connections to Downtown intersections will be made by routing fiber through existing duct banks and utility tunnels. A map indicating the location of the new grid is attached.

The grid is expected to take approximately 15 months to install, tentatively beginning in January 2018 and continuing until March 2019. It will require construction crews to dig a 30-inch trench in the street to install the ducts and cable.

Crews will dig about 200 feet of trench at a time and restore each segment as it is completed. The entire lane affected by the trench will be repaved after the completion of major segments of the grid. 

The work will require lane restrictions for motorists, however the overall impact on traffic during construction will be minor.

Additional information about the procurement and funding of the project are available in the memo sent to the Mayor and City Council.