Columbus Submits Final Smart City Application With Broad Support From Regional Partners

May 26, 2016

Local officials from the city of Columbus gathered to celebrate the submission of the city’s application for the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) $40 million Smart Cities Challenge grant.

To highlight the strength of the city’s application, leaders announced that public and private partners pledged $90 million in matching funds. If Columbus is awarded the grant and received additional support, Central Ohio could have up to $140 million to use to make the region the nation’s epicenter of advanced vehicle and transportation infrastructure research and development. 

The first of its kind competition seeks to create an innovative, fully-integrated model city that uses data, technology and creativity to shape how people and goods are transported in the future. The USDOT developed the Smart City Challenge as a response to the trends identified in the Beyond Traffic draft report.

The report, issued in 2015, revealed that the nation’s aging infrastructure is not equipped to deal with a dramatically growing population in regions throughout the country.  It also identified a need to increase mobility options in developing regions.

“We want Columbus to be the national leader in intelligent transportation systems (ITS) research, development, and implementation,” Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said. “Our focus on implementing ITS will not only create opportunities for economic development and job creation for the region, but also provide ladders of opportunity for our residents to better access food, services, education and recreation.”

In the second phase of the competition, the seven finalists received $100,000 grant to further develop their proposals. Whereas the first phase called for a high-level overview, the winning city will be selected based on their ability to think big, and provide a detailed roadmap on how they will integrate innovative technologies to prototype the future of transportation in their city. The USDOT has worked with each city to connect them with existing partnerships and support their final proposal with technical assistance.

“Central Ohio is rallying around Columbus and the Smart City Challenge with outstanding regional support of over 100 different communities, businesses, and organizations.  This incredible collaborative vision of how our fast-growing region will leverage technology to improve our quality of life is what makes Columbus’ proposal stand out from the rest,” said William Murdock, MORPC Executive Director. “With potentially up to 1 million more people by 2050, Columbus’ transformational Smart City proposal smartly uses ITS to solve current problems and turn growth’s challenges into huge opportunities.”   

The other finalists for the USDOT Smart Cities Challenge are Austin, TX; Denver, CO; Kansas City, MO; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; and San Francisco, CA.

The winning city will be announced in June 2016.