Next week, RIoT is hosting an afternoon event capturing the gigabit movement taking shape across North Carolina communities.

RIoT XXX: Smart and Connected Gigabit Cities, held January 22 at The Rickhouse in Durham, is a platform for local and state leaders of the smart cities movement to discuss current initiatives and future objectives for accelerating the gigabit ecosystem.

The program is co-presented by US Ignite, a long-term partner with RIoT. Attendees can expect five hours of panels, presentations, networking and project demos.

The event opens with a keynote on grassroots civic collaboration by Will Aycock, head of the City of Wilson’s Greenlight Community Broadband program.

A panel covering smart cities and public safety will feature NC FirstNet SPOC and FCC Disaster Working Group Chairman Red Grasso, City of Fayetteville Emergency Management Office Assistant Chief Moisbiell Alvarez and 3M Protective Safety Division’s Kimberly Henry.

Later, Zach Ambrose of NC Open Pass and Virginia Lingham of Virginia DOT will co-present a discussion on open data and gigabit cities.

Another panel will feature smart cities initiatives in Benson, Greensboro and Cary, including Jeffrey Sural of the NC Office of Broadband Infrastructure, Alan Fitzpatrick of NC Hearts Gigabit, City of Greensboro CIO Jane Nickles, Benson Town Manager Matt Zapp, and Town of Cary Smart Cities Program Manager Terry Yates.

Microelectronics Center of North Carolina CEO Jean Davis will also present a talk on economic development and the future of IoT.

The event also features five demos from projects supported by US Ignite:

  • Geographic information system (GIS) technology from NC State’s GeoForAllLab, a geospatial analysis and modeling research facility.
  • Location-based 360-degree VR programming that recreates historic sites, developed by Duke University’s VR research facility, DiVE.
  • A series of 360-degree VR broadcasts that guide K-12 students through virtual field trips. This demo will be presented by Michael Cuales, head of creative innovation and multimedia for NC State’s DELTA program and founder of VR consulting startup LEVR Studios.
  • Raleigh-based Triangle UAS, an aerial systems and drone technology provider, will demo real-time streaming drones running on gigabit technology.
  • Mahdi Inaya, founder of Triangle startup dropark, will present the app’s civic parking system. Inaya was a member of Innovate Durham’s 2017 cohort and a winner of US Ignite’s reverse pitch competition in 2017.

RIoT’s relationship with industry organizations like US Ignite, North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN) and the Wireless Research Center help broaden its support for projects exploring ways to address the digital divide and bring broadband to underserved areas. As North Carolina’s state-wide Internet of Things industry connector, RIoT has a key stake in the future of gigabit expansion, and it plans to be a leading supporter of these technologies through events and educational programming in RIoT Labs.

RIoT Executive Director Tom Snyder says the rate of innovation in the gigabit space is continually increasing, and RIoT is seizing the opportunity to help these projects grow. Just recently, Snyder adds, RIoT supported a broadband project that aims to install hotspots on rural-area school buses so students can do their homework on long commutes.

“It is a lot of fun to sit at the edge of emerging technologies and see what creative and hardworking entrepreneurs will come up with next,” Snyder says. “We are lucky to see some of that firsthand with startups we work with in the RIoT Accelerator. All businesses leverage the internet in some capacity (at a minimum for email and a website). IoT increases the importance of broadband as a basic utility.”

Sharing RIoT’s vision to promote gigabit expansion, US Ignite is also boosting support for innovative projects in this space.

Scott Turnbull, director of technology at US Ignite (who will present the closing keynote at RIoT XXX), says the organization’s partnership with RIoT helps it to assist communities in adopting new technologies to further support the smart city movement.

“The jobs of tomorrow are starting to arrive now, and RIoT has hit the mark in fostering the vision, leadership and educational opportunities critical to creating the jobs that will make our cities responsive to the people living in them in ways we’ve never imagined,” Turnbull adds. “RIoT, and efforts like it, are helping to create new ways of thinking and working with technology in our daily lives to make it better for everyone, and helping prepare their community to excel as IoT adoption accelerates.”

Smart cities and gigabit networks is a vertical RIoT has been pursuing over the past few years. In February 2017, RIoT teamed up with NCNGN and Greensboro-based New City Ventures to host a reverse pitch contest in the Triad, offering $38,000 in prize money and over $250,000 in cloud services to support startups developing gigabit applications. Later that year, RIoT and the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster rounded up a group of NCSU leaders and industry partners to travel to Austin for the US Ignite’s Smart City Summit—the largest delegation to attend the event.

Sarah Glova, RIoT’s director of growth and communications, says RIoT XXX continues this dedication to accelerating smart city and gigabit network technology. The event will showcase the work of government officials, corporate partners, nonprofit organizations and other tech leaders.

“Some of the top minds in these spaces [will] come together to talk about broadband, how it underpins the smart city movement, and what we need to make happen if smart cities are to continue driving innovation in our state and beyond,” Glova added.