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Two-Day 'Smart Cities' Conference Opens in Racine

Sept 11, 2019 9p

(WGTD)---One of the first concrete examples of smart city technology that came up during the start of a two-day conference in Racine Wednesday was an idea that came to mind 18 years ago in the middle of the nine-eleven tragedy.

Mike Mainthow’s business partner was caught in a New York subway when the buildings were collapsing. "When he emerged, his first thought was we need some type of communication--digital communication about what do I do. Where do I go. How do I get important information," Mainthow said. "That was the seed that led to what our company is doing today." 

Smart City Media now makes high-tech, interactive kiosks that go on city street corners and that are used to display a variety of information. Some of the units are expected to pop up soon in Milwaukee.

It was clear from the start of Wednesday's discussions that defining the term “smart city” is not always easy. "I think smart cities is, quite honestly, a great marketing term," said Michael Pegues, Chief Information Officer of Aurora, Illinois. "But no one knows what that that means because it's different for everyone in this room. I think it's a state of mind..a culture," he said.  

Speakers and panelists all seemed to agree on one thing: That emerging technologies can improve the lives of citizens and make government, schools and businesses more efficient.

About 150 people were present in Memorial Hall for the start of the regional conference that was organized by the City of Racine and its partners.

The overarching purpose is to give participants a chance to network and share ideas.