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Innovation Through Collaboration: Shaping Arizona's Smart Region Future Together

The Connective is at the forefront of steering Arizona toward an innovative and interconnected future. Our flagship event, CONNECTED 2024, marked a significant milestone, bringing together nearly 200 citizens, city leaders, and technology partners to celebrate progress and momentum for smart region initiatives across the state. The gathering showcased the collaborative spirit driving Arizona as a world-leading smart region.

The Connective’s civic partners: Avondale, Buckeye, Chandler, Goodyear, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Surprise, and Tempe, as well as corporate partner Salt River Project, are investing in innovative smart city projects that improve the lives of citizens in their jurisdictions, as well as in our region as a whole. CONNECTED 2024 provided the perfect medium to showcase those investments and ideas.

"The core of our mission," said Dean Duncan, Executive Director of The Connective, "is to help cities adopting smart technology to improve city operations. We're facilitating relationships and dialogues between cities, technology partners, and their citizens. For our partners, CONNECTED 2024 provided a framework for active citizen-engagement, and the perfect way to celebrate and showcase their smart region projects.”

Showcasing Innovations and Building Momentum

The diversity of projects presented at CONNECTED 2024 was a clear testament to the innovation being driven by our city partners. Attendees had the opportunity to immerse themselves in an exposition of more than a dozen city initiatives, spanning various departments such as water resources, GIS, mobility, event management, urban forestry, public safety, courts, community services, procurement, and more.

From sustainable urban development initiatives to cutting-edge digital infrastructure, each contribution reflected our community's dedication to pushing the boundaries of what's possible.

CONNECTED 2024 allowed cities to spotlight their projects and The Connective helped facilitate introductions between cities, their constituents, and technology vendors who were on-hand to showcase their innovations.

These vendors from around the world were hand selected to present solutions The Connective have identified for its local community. This kind of specified curation assisted in connecting vital, emergent solutions with city leaders actively exploring local challenges. Companies present included InCitu, Innocode and Spatial Media presenting technologies from Spatial Reality to Digital Twins to uniform civic engagement platforms. A special thank you also to Jeff Melanson of Creative Change consulting for his contributions to the event.

City leaders as well as industry members and the public were able to engage with live, customized demos created just for CONNECTED 2024.

Enriching Civic Engagement

The diversity of CONNECTED 2024's attendees highlighted a significant shift towards inclusive civic participation. The event was held in conjunction with our partner, Venture Café Phoenix. It attracted local government officials, educators, tech enthusiasts, and drew a wide array of citizens eager to engage in the smart city dialogue.

“When we talk about the goals of The Connective,” said Jake Taylor, Design and Technology Manager of The Connective, “everyone jumps to wireless and broadband. Certainly important technologies. What CONNECTED 2024 is really about is actual human connection. Technology can be a powerful tool - but never in isolation. CONNECTED 2024 is about bringing people together and making sure that technology is a benefit to everyone.”

The Future: Expanding Our Reach and Impact

The success of CONNECTED 2024 is merely a stepping stone in our ongoing journey. The event celebrated our region’s achievements and set the stage for future collaborations that will continue to redefine Arizona's landscape.

"CONNECTED 2024 showcased the synergy between our city partners, industry innovators, and the community," said Ben Williams, Program Manager for The Connective. "That’s the momentum we’re all feeling here in Arizona. The collective energy and commitment across all our partners is propelling the region forward at a new pace.”

It's through this united approach that Arizona continues to set a national and global benchmark for what it means to be a smart region. From hosting quarterly roundtables with city partners to organizing industry-led workshops and community engagement events like CONNECTED 2024, The Connective is a proud participant in the “connected” smart region ecosystem.

The Most Awarded Region in the World

The momentum in Arizona is highlighted by our cities' recent achievements in the What Works Cities program, an initiative sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The program celebrates cities that effectively use data to inform policy, engage residents, allocate funding, and enhance municipal services. With Phoenix and Tempe boasting Platinum Certifications and Mesa, Glendale, Gilbert, and Scottsdale each securing Gold, Greater Phoenix has emerged as the most recognized region globally for data-driven governance.

At CONNECTED 2024, city leaders spoke about the dual forces of competition and collaboration shaping Arizona's urban development. While there is an element of competition among cities, the prevailing spirit is one of collaboration. As one city leader explained, this healthy competition encourages cities to excel and share their successes, fostering an environment where learning from one another is the norm. Ultimately, by working together and maintaining open communication, cities across Arizona have significantly improved the quality of life for their citizens.

Our Pledge: A Smarter, More Connected Arizona

Innovation thrives on connection. At The Connective, we've honed the art of fostering these crucial links, fostering communication across 20 cities in Arizona and connecting them with technology partners that implement smart projects globally. Events like CONNECTED 2024 exemplify our approach. We purposefully selected event technology partners based on the needs of the cities in attendance.

The feedback from our approach at CONNECTED 2024 has been overwhelmingly positive. Technology providers called it "the most valuable event we've attended in the last four years," while residents were amazed to discover the innovative projects unfolding in their own backyards. But what truly sets us apart is how we're linking cities with the smart solutions that matter.

We're the eyes, ears, and connectors for our city partners, diligently searching the state, the nation, and the globe for solutions that solve problems our communities face. Through this concerted effort, we're championing a new movement in civic engagement, demonstrating that when cities join hands with leaders and innovators across borders and sectors, the potential for positive impact in the lives of their citizens is exponentially amplified.

"At CONNECTED 2024, we wanted to foster an environment where every voice could contribute to shaping our region's future,” said Jake Taylor, “and we succeeded. It's the human connections that drive innovation and ensure our region's efforts hit home, and that they resonate with and positively impact the communities, businesses, and people they're designed to serve."

Right now, our team is hard at work planning a series of events for the rest of 2024. But that's not all—we're also beginning our planning for CONNECTED 2025.

Want to stay involved? Follow us on LinkedIn, where we post about, smart city collaboration, upcoming events and workshops:


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