At the Spring Smart Cities Connect Conference & Expo in Columbus, Ohio, 325 community leaders gathered for three days of in-person networking and content sharing focused on technology, sustainability, and growth. As it happens, our team also came together at the event to celebrate ten years of US Ignite!

Launched a decade ago, our nonprofit’s mission is to help communities solve some of their toughest challenges through collaboration and technical innovation. We are proud of the projects and partnerships we’ve helped to create, and inspired to see how the smart community network continues to grow.

Read below for our highlights from Smart Cities Connect, with thanks to our partners for making it all possible. And don’t forget to check out the resource guides we released at the show:


New US Ignite Communities

During Smart Cities Connect, we welcomed several new communities to our network and recognized their efforts to tackle challenges in connectivity, equity, and infrastructure development. The US Ignite Communities program now boasts 50 members across the US and abroad.


Panel Sessions

On stage at Smart Cities Connect, we hosted a keynote panel featuring partners from the city of Philadelphia and Comcast. In a joint pilot project called SmartBlockPHL, the city leveraged Comcast’s connectivity and optical sensors to outfit 14 streetlights with technology for real-time data collection. The panel gave project representatives a chance to discuss in detail how they ensured data privacy while also creating a system to gain insight into traffic patterns, air quality, and weather conditions.

Several breakout panels highlighted the incredible work of US Ignite Communities in piloting and adopting new technologies while expanding connectivity to those that need it most.

Representatives of three of the seven Project OVERCOME communities – Clinton County, MO; Buffalo, NY; Cleveland, OH – shared the successes, challenges, and discoveries they made during the process of designing and deploying innovative broadband networks in underserved communities. The panelists emphasized the need for effective communication across different stakeholder types, including academics, technologists, and community leaders. They tied the importance of communication to successful project execution and, critically, to building trust with residents.

In another session, representatives from three cities – Eugene, OR; St. Petersburg, FL; and Joplin, MO – shared their experiences deploying smart sensors in their communities. The panel also included the co-founder of climate sensing company Tellus, with discussion revolving around the way air quality and water sensors can help communities advocate for and ensure equitable access to a healthy environment.


During a session on Deploying Private Municipal Networks to Close the Digital Divide, US Ignite partners discussed the opportunities available through public-private partnerships and the deployment of open access networks. Need a refresher on broadband models that different communities have pursued? See the study on municipally enabled broadband that US Ignite published with Altman Solon back in 2020.

Keep Exploring

Can’t get enough? To see additional pictures from the Smart Cities Connect Conference click here. You can learn more about US Ignite Communities on the program webpage. Be sure you are also signed up to receive monthly news and updates from us by clicking here.

Please let us know of any questions or comments you may have – we’re eager to hear from you!