Smart Cities Connect brings together community leaders from around the country, to share and learn the ways in which civic technologies and infrastructure are having, and can have, an impact — in areas like transportation, emergency services, community engagement and the built environment. Like any great gathering, though, the conference is more than the sum of its parts, and especially of its industry lingo.
Day one was a session facilitated by our partners at US Ignite, a deep dive into the work member communities have been most proud of over the last year — and some of their biggest challenges. A gallery walk highlighted that, for nearly all of the communities present, digital equity has been a chief focus, from building networks to establishing digital literacy programs (like our own Tech Goes Home). Seeing equity so squarely in the focus of our peer cities around the county made for an inspiring start to the conference and was certainly a theme of the Spring 2023 convening.
The Enterprise Center was honored with a Smart 50 Award that first day, too, on behalf of a partnership connecting Chattanooga with Cleveland, OH; Kansas City, MO; the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts; and Salt Lake City, UT, recognizing the collaborative work our communities have done to measure, and share data, around air quality. The Smart 50 awards recognize fifty transformative initiatives internationally, with more than a thousand nominations, but this was just one of three Smart 50 awards Chattanooga received, with two more calling attention to projects focused on smart intersections and parking data.
These were not Chattanooga’s only recognition at the conference, though: IDC North America also highlights “efforts that make cities more livable, and offer new services and economic opportunities.” Co-honorees alongside Houston, TX’s ETHAN (Emergency Telehealth and Transport) program, The Orchard Knob Collaborative and TVA Connected Communities initiative were celebrated for work supporting improved public health, leveraging investments in home improvement, digital literacy and telehealth services. Indeed, both Orchard Knob and the air quality network found their way to the mainstage, too, as US Ignite shared models for other communities to replicate during these years of unprecedented federal investment.
SCC has been a space, in years past, where exciting new technologies have dominated the main stage (and AI was certainly on attendees’ and presenters’ minds, alike), but this year’s theme was clearly about what those technologies can mean for quality of life, and for people. That’s The Enterprise Center’s approach, as well, and it could not have been more fitting to transition from three days of sharing and learning at SCC to participate in another conference in Chattanooga, at Signal Centers’ Global Accessibility Awareness Summit — with it’s local lens on the transformative potential of technology to ensure everyone can share in the opportunities our community has to offer.