Smart Columbus is the smart city initiative of the Columbus Region. We have a vision that starts with the reinvention of mobility, which will lead us to a future beyond what anyone has yet imagined. We're taking on the coveted job of "becoming smart" by transforming mobility in our city. We're also taking on the responsibility to be a teacher for other cities as they evolve around the world.

The initiative is co-led by the City of Columbus and the Columbus Partnership. The City was awarded and directs the use of the Smart City Challenge grant dollars. The Columbus Partnership leads the growth of the Smart Columbus Acceleration Fund and is also the lead implementation partner of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation grant. Smart Columbus is made possible through the leadership and partnership of dozens of partners, including American Electric Power, the Ohio State University, the Mid-Ohio Region Planning Commission (MORPC), the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), Columbus Partnership member companies and many more.

Smart Columbus' mission is to accelerate human progress through open mobility. Our goals are to:

  • Improve people's quality of life by connecting them to employment and opportunity, including better access to school, healthcare, fresh food and job training.
  • Drive economic growth by attracting mobility research and development, preparing our workforce for the future, and attracting and creating jobs in new industries.
  • Foster sustainability by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions through the adoption alternative fuel vehicles, and by reducing reliance on personal vehicle ownership.
  • Improve safety by reducing collisions caused by human error, reducing traffic congestion and providing more efficient and dynamic routing for emergency vehicles.

What was the Smart City Challenge?

In 2016, The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation asked mid-size cities across America to develop ideas for an integrated, first-of-its-kind smart transportation system that would use data, applications and technology to help people and goods move more quickly, cheaply and efficiently.

Seventy-eight cities applied for the Smart City Challenge grants, and Columbus was named the winner. As the winner, Columbus was awarded two grants: $40 million from USDOT and $10 million from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

What is the goal of the USDOT grant?
Show What is the goal of the USDOT grant? Details

As the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Smart City Challenge, the City of Columbus was awarded a $40 million grant from the USDOT. The grant funds a portfolio of technology and transportation demonstrations designed to demonstrate how an intelligent transportation system and equitable access to transportation can have positive impacts on everyday challenges faced by cities. Projects within the portfolio include testing self-driving shuttles, establishing a connected vehicle environment, creating smart mobility hubs, and more.

What is the goal of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation grant?
Show What is the goal of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation grant? Details

As the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Smart City Challenge, the City of Columbus was awarded a $10 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. The grant seeks to lay a practical path to replacing carbon-based fuel consumption and inspire action to protect and sustain the environment through decarbonization and electrification. The grant's project portfolio focuses on five priorities that together work to measurably decrease greenhouse gas emissions, including increasing electric vehicle adoption, expanding electric vehicle charging infrastructure and decarbonizing and modernizing the region's electric grid. 

What is the Smart Columbus Acceleration Fund?
Show What is the Smart Columbus Acceleration Fund? Details

At the time of the Smart City Challenge, Columbus leaders rallied $90 million committed investments that would grow the opportunity of the $50 million grants. This Acceleration Fund is today made up of coordinated and aligned investments by the private and public sectors that will complement, scale and sustain Smart Columbus projects and programs into the future.

What started as $90 million when we won the challenge, has grown to more than $730 million, with a goal of $1 billion by 2020. Examples of smart city investments that are helping us to achieve our vision include:

  • Nearly $200 million from AEP to modernize our electric grid and advance electric vehicle adoption
  • Investment by the state of Ohio, The Ohio State University and Honda to build new first- class autonomous vehicle testing facilities at Transportation Research Center
  • Dollars committed by the City of Columbus to deploy smart street lights throughout the city and procure electric vehicles in its streets
  • Central Ohio Transit Authority's (COTA) investment to enable all buses with Wi-Fi and transition to mobile fare payment
  • The launch of the first-ever Singularity University Smart City Accelerator in Columbus
  • A $12 million cash fund on behalf of the private sector to support the operations and sustainment of the initiative

Through the collaboration of the private sector, we'll scale the opportunity presented by the grants and inspire a region-wide culture shift to transform Columbus into an epicenter of smart mobility.

The Harvard Business School has written a case study on Columbus' exemplary ability to partner across the public, private, academic and non-profit sectors to get things done -- we call it "the Columbus Way." It's this spirit of radical collaboration that helped us win the Smart City Challenge and it will be what enables us to leverage the grants for a more long-term, self-sustaining effort that advances our work to impact other neighborhoods, generates new pilots and programs, facilitates new industry partnerships and brings innovation to all sectors of our economy.