Columbus named America’s Smart City, will begin working toward vision of intelligent transportation systems hub

Posted by MSF Real Estate Capital on August 17, 2016

City granted $50 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation and Vulcan Inc.

Columbus has fought for and won a competition that could completely change the future of transportation in the city. Columbus was named the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Smart City Challenge, beating out six other finalists, including San Francisco; Portland; and Austin, Texas.

As the winner, Columbus was given $40 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation and $10 million from Vulcan Inc. Additionally, several Central Ohio businesses and public organizations pledged to put $90 million toward the Smart Cities initiative.

Like many cities, Columbus has relied on automobiles in the past, resulting in traffic congestion. As Columbus prepares to see its population grow by nearly half a million people, if not more, by 2050, it’s looking for a way to reduce its reliance on cars. Unfortunately, it’s one of the largest cities in the U.S. that lacks a public rail transit system. This has caused a number of issues, including fatal crashes and lack of access to health care, especially to expectant mothers in poor neighborhoods.

With the city’s new smart city vision, however, that will soon change.

Now, Columbus will work to implement self-driving vehicles and new transit passes that will work across transportation platforms. There will be upgrades as well that will help traffic signals communicate with vehicles.

Other plans include a driverless test fleet, which will shuttle passengers between a transit terminal and their jobs. Emergency vehicles will be outfitted with technology that lets them interact with traffic signals. To ensure low-income residents have the same access to transportation, the city plans on developing a transit pass that works for all modes of transport, eliminating the need for bank accounts or credit cards.

The full vision for Columbus is built on five pillars: access to jobs, smart logistics, connected visitors, connected citizens, and sustainable transportation.

Access to Jobs

While Columbus has several major employment centers, many workers have difficulties getting to work. Columbus will work to improve access to jobs.

Smart Logistics

By optimizing movement and delivery of freight through the use of global logistics to work through real-time traffic, weather, and routing data for trucks.

Connected Visitors

Working through feedback from real visitors, Columbus will be working to provide real-time event, transit, and parking information to visitors and residents.

Connected Citizens

Some neighborhoods face certain mobility challenges that make it hard for citizens to access jobs, health care, and education. Columbus will work to provide safe transportation accessible to everyone.

Sustainable Transportation

Working to end global climate change, Columbus will invest in vehicles, infrastructure, programs, and incentives that support energy efficiency, electric transportation, and reduction of greenhouse gas so the city can become environmentally sustainable.

Learn more about Columbus’s Smart City initiative here.


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