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Smart Cities, FirstNet Break-Out Tracks Planned for CES 2018

Last year's conference featured what's believed to be its first major hackathon, and CES 2018 will debut separate events focused on smart cities and FirstNet.

Like this year’s model, which featured what’s believed to be its first major hackathon, CES 2018 will offer something it’s never had before: a separate smart cities track throughout the show, Jan. 9-12.

Located at the Westgate Las Vegas hotel next to the Las Vegas Convention Center, the main CES location, it will examine a topic that show organizers said they felt was significant enough to merit its own distinct event.

Presented by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and Deloitte, the Consumer Electronics Show will feature programming from companies including Bosch, Ford, Nissan and Qualcomm on smart transportation, energy, public safety, health care, data analytics, security, artificial intelligence and more.

In conjunction with FirstNet, another partner, CES 2018 will also feature a half-day program focused on first responders.

Governance and policy are in the smart cities mix as well. Exact times are not yet set, but Smart Cities at CES 2018 will feature an innovation policy summit that Karen Chupka, senior vice president, CES and corporate business strategy for CTA, said is geared toward government officials and targeted at “educating policymakers on what’s happening from a technology perspective.”

CTA officials had seen an influx of local, state and even federal officials at previous editions of the show, Chupka said, and recognized the significance of smart cities. Global smart cities spending is projected to rise from $14.9 billion in 2015 to $34.4 billion in 2020, CTA said earlier this year.

“It seemed like the natural place to take this discussion to the next level and start taking a look at this. These are solutions that are potentially going to be tied together and government leaders need to know how to prepare their cities for them, prepare their communities for them,” Chupka said.

Not surprisingly, officials in Las Vegas strongly agree. Earlier this year, the agency hired two members of winning teams from the 2017 hackathon, among them Maria De Lourdes Ramos, who earned her bachelor’s of science in mechanical engineering cum laude from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and is earning a doctorate in mechanical engineering.

It’s uncertain yet whether CES 2018 will again feature a hackathon, but Las Vegas IT Business Partner Don Jacobson said the city is mulling whether to host one during the weekend of Jan. 6, then showcase winners at its booth.

Also at its booth, the city will likely share results from three pedestrian safety pilots slated to wrap later this fall, Jacobson said. Each uses technology to examine issues such as the design of intersections, traffic signal times, police enforcement and the availability of features like sidewalks.

“It’s great to have this be the next wave of interest, not only by municipal governments and state governments, but by the people who create the solutions for those public agencies to get together and talk about the real problems that we want to solve, the real data that we want to get. So, we’re really looking forward to it,” Jacobson said.

Theo Douglas is assistant managing editor for Industry Insider — California, and before that was a staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes covering municipal, county and state governments, business and breaking news. He has a Bachelor's degree in Newspaper Journalism and a Master's in History, both from California State University, Long Beach.