- Last week Ridgeland, MS announced a partnership with C Spire, a local telecom, for smart lighting and traffic analytics applications trials, as reported in the Mississippi Business Journal.
- The trial, set for a two month period later this year, is being paid for by C Spire. It’s Ridgeland’s first foray into smart city technology and the first trial of its kind in Mississippi.
- Ridgeland has seen its population more than double since 1990, according to the Mississippi Business Journal. That population growth in the city and the surrounding county has "put a major strain on the existing roadways and intersections and has resulted in traffic congestion on many of the major routes," according to a 2016 Madison County report.
While its relatively small size (approximately 25,000) might make Ridgeland seem like an atypical place for a smart cities project, it is, in fact, an almost perfect fit for these kinds of pilots. In 2014, Ridgeland was one of the first cities in the state to ger fiber internet from C Spire. Even before the fiber was installed, Google recognized Ridgeland in 2013 as a "digital capital."
Ridgeland doesn't stand alone. There is a push to bring smart cities technology to smaller cities and even suburbs. As an example, the Department of Transportation ran a competition in 2015 for mid-sized cities to get a $40 million grant to expand smart city projects.
In fact, more small and mid-sized cities, or cities under a million residents, are working on smart city projects than large cities, according to a 2016 survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. As the survey points out, smaller cities can be more manageable than the complex networks of bureaucracies in large cities. Because of this advantage, smaller cities can position themselves as a sort of testing ground for new technology and attract investment along the way.