When Columbus beat out 77 other cities to become the winner of the USDOT Smart City Challenge, the city knew it was going to take a lot to bring about a cultural shift in transportation in Columbus. For the past 100 years mobility in the US has been defined by the individually owned, internal combustion engine vehicle.
In Columbus, they can see the effects of this in their everyday lives as the city faces growing equity, safety, environmental, and efficiency concerns. Because of this, Columbus plans to disrupt a cultural shift that embraces “C.A.S.E”. The Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electric mobility ecosystem of the future. The foundation of which is the electric powertrain, which is better equipped to sustain and support connected vehicle technologies.
In 2015 Electric Vehicles made up just 0.37 percent of the vehicles sold in the seven-county Columbus region. As the winner of the challenge, which was co-sponsored by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Columbus aims to increase EV purchases by 480 percent. As American’s test market, Columbus will test how to increase electric vehicle adoption and share the case study with other cities around the world. They will also need to deploy a charging infrastructure and decarbonize its electric grid.
A major step towards this aim was recently taken as the Columbus City Council approved a $2.5 Million contract with Pillar Technology Group. Their job will be to develop an operating system for the Smart Columbus project that will analyze and share data on innovative transportation projects.
“The Columbus-based IT company will develop a computer operating system that will support the long-term Smart Cities strategy,” said Brandi Braun, Columbus’ deputy innovation officer. “It will be the citywide data management platform for information collected during the Smart Cities Challenge’s transportation projects.”
“We want universities and nonprofits to share data with the community through this project,” she said. Mike Stevens, the city’s chief innovation officer, said it will be an “open-data portal” for the entire region.
Smart Columbus is a partnership of businesses, local governments and research groups that oversees the city’s work on the federal Smart Cities initiative that will explore new transportation technologies. The program will use public and private money to back transportation initiatives. Another part of the puzzle is the Columbus Partnership, whish is a non-profit, membership-based CEO organization of more than 65 CEOs from Columbus’ leading businesses and institutions. The Columbus Partnership’s primary goal is to improve the economic vitality of the Columbus Region.
With the help of business leaders, organizations, and city leadership, the Columbus, Ohio may just become the Smart Transportation hub of the US. If you’re interested in learning more about this project, attend the presentation: Our Case for Change – The Smart Columbus Electrification Program at Connected Cities USA.