Smart city techies will arrive in Cincinnati this week to learn about smart mobility and infrastructure projects taking hold across the greater Cincinnati-Kentucky-Indiana region.

The second annual Smart Cincy Summit opens Thursday, April 26 in Cincinnati, and is set to attract about 250 state and local leaders, as well as industry types to the city. The day before, the Smart Cincy Community Day is set to attract about 200 attendees, say event organizers.

“Smart Cincy is committed to making sure the community drives the conversation. That’s why tickets aren’t hundreds of dollars to attend the summit. That’s why Community Day, as well as monthly roundtable events, are free,” said Jamie Sordo, marketing manager for Venture Smarter, a smart cities strategic planning and technology firm based in Cincinnati, and one of the organizers behind the Smart Cincy Summit.

Attendees to this year’s summit can expect to hear about Cincinnati’s Fiber Ring project, a $9 million downtown project that will form the backbone for future smart city projects. Also, the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) will discuss new transportation, mobility and infrastructure planning which also grows partnerships among Uber, the University of Cincinnati, Venture Smarter and other businesses and organizations in the region.

For example, the summit will provide an update on the Cincinnati Smart Mobility Lab project, which was launched in January, and is a partnership among Uber, the city of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, and OKI. The lab will use Uber-generated and other data to study transit across the region. 

“Using this technology will enable us to explore innovative options for integrating various modes of transit so we can truly understand and address gaps in service, improve ease of use, get people to jobs and truly connect the entire city,” Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said in a statement. 

Smart Cincy began in late 2016 as a grass-roots effort to better position the region to attract smart city projects. Smart Cincy represents a public-private partnership between governments, research institutions, neighborhood and grass-roots organizations and the business community.

“Now we’re facilitating partnerships between the city of Cincinnati and other municipalities across the region to leverage new technologies, resources and opportunities to address many of the problems faced by residents and visitors such as the digital divide, mobility, safety and environmental issues as well as energy, education and workforce development disparities,” said Sordo.

This year’s summit will also include leaders from the National Institute of Standards and Technology Global City Teams Challenge to lead afternoon planning workshops for regional officials, and will serve to kick off the 2018 Smart Infrastructure Challenge, where regional teams — possibly made up of government officials, planning organizations, universities or others — develop smart city projects. The teams have until May 31 to submit a letter of intent to compete for funding, project support and other resources. The Smart Infrastructure Challenge is being led by the Regional Smart Cities Initiative, an organization formed by Venture Smarter, with the overall goal of growing partnerships throughout the region.

“We want to leverage smart technologies, policies, and strategies to make our region a better place to live, work, and visit,” said Zack Huhn, the co-founder of Venture Smarter who also acts as an adviser to the U.S. House of Representatives Smart Cities Caucus that launched just last month. 

“We want to build communities, foster talent and solve pressing regional needs, from air quality and transportation access to digital divide issues and workforce development disparities,” said Huhn in an email. “These efforts cannot happen on their own, and they will not happen if we don’t break down the silos across departments and agencies.”