Last week, the Regional Smart Cities Initiative held its third roundtable in Cincinnati, this time exploring mobility and sustainability.
“The idea of a smart city means different things to different people,” says Zack Huhn, director of RSCI. “We started with creating consensus among the stakeholders around the four pillars of smart cities: connectivity, security, mobility and sustainability.”
The first roundtable introduced the idea of smart cities and was followed by a session on connectivity and security. The programs, which have been open to the public, have drawn several dozen representatives from the private and public sector, as well as regional universities.
“We want to create an aligned brain trust of regional stakeholders to explore how we can work together to establish the first smart region,” Huhn says.
The foundation for creating a smart city or region, according to RSCI, is connectivity: getting usable, real-time feedback on the people, places and resources of a city or region.
“A smart city is similar to a smart home,” says Jon Salisbury, chief technology officer at Nexigen. “We need to look at how devices and networks communicate, and their power needs to come up with efficient solutions.”
Protecting those technology solutions, as well as ensuring overall public safety, is central to the security pillar of RSCI. Connectivity is also closely tied to the issues of mobility, including infrastructure for smart transit and opportunities for economic mobility. RSCI’s mobility pillar is also integral to its focus on sustainability.
“Next generation transit infrastructure offers a solution to three of the problems we’re talking about: smart land use, congestion and access to education,” Huhn says. “Mobility also overlaps with sustainability since so many of the particulates in the water and air come from transportation.”
One solution for future mobility and connectivity was presented by University of Cincinnati student Sid Thatham. He and his Hyperloop UC team are creating a prototype of next-gen transit, a high-speed, zero carbon pod that could move people from Cincinnati to Chicago in 30 minutes.
UC civil engineering professor Jonathan Corey addressed the need to develop smart infrastructure not only to communicate with autonomous vehicles but also to help buildings interact with the environment. Sensors used by smart cities could direct self-drive cars to parking spaces or tell buildings how to adjust temperature and lighting in response to weather changes.
“The mechanisms that built cities 100 years ago — roads, bridges, electrical lines — were the smart cities of their era,” says Chris Lawson, executive director of The Hamilton Mill. “Today, smart cities are built with fiber optics, sensors and smart meters. As we rebuild our infrastructure, we are creating opportunities for economic development.”
Following the speakers, the Pipeline H2O cohort, in town for its second week of classes, pitched their ideas for creating sustainable energy and renewable water sources.
The nonprofit RSCI, steered by a team of regional leaders, launched the roundtable series to create more engagement around the project leading up to its first smart cities summit, which will be held on April 25 at Union Hall.
Tickets for the summit are $60-125, and can be purchased here.