Cincinnati installing fiber network for traffic management in ‘Smart Cincy’ project

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The City of Cincinnati will install a new ‘fiber ring’ around its entire Central Business District (CBD) to improve traffic management as part of a comprehensive effort to transform the Ohio metropolis into a smarter city.

The new fiber system will improve the way traffic signals are managed and modified, provide an excellent opportunity to ‘light up’ the Downtown district with free wi-fi, and enable the city authorities to explore novel partnerships with businesses that would benefit from use of the fiber network. The upgrade to fiber for the Downtown traffic-communications system is one of several smart city initiatives the administration is aggressively pursuing as part of its ‘Smart Cincy’ program. Others include the Smart Cincy RFP (Request for Proposals) for a 5G cellular network, and the development of a comprehensive smart mobility app, both of which are underway.

The 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 Cincinnati Department of Transportation & Engineering with greater flexibility, as well as improving reliability and reduced service times for signal changes and adjustments. The system will also update all traffic signal controllers, and will include CCTV 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 enable the city to respond to future innovations when available, such as connected and/or autonomous vehicles (CAVs), and assist with improving Cincinnati’s overall economic competitiveness. Crews will install approximately 3.8 miles (6.1km) of underground conduit and fiber optic cable around the perimeter of Downtown, with remaining connections to CBD intersections made by routing fiber through existing duct banks and utility tunnels. The grid is expected to take approximately 15 months to install, with work beginning in January 2018 and continuing until March 2019.

“Organizations, and especially local governments, that are not using technology and data to innovate and enhance the customer experience are destined for irrelevancy,” explained city manager Harry Black. “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.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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