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May 17th, 2018

Smart Columbus Unveils First Version Of The Smart Columbus Operating System

Local developers invited to leverage first-of-its-kind smart city operating system to uplift quality of life in Columbus during Smart City Hackathon May 18-20  

Columbus, OH, May 17, 2018 – Smart Columbus today introduced the initial iteration of the Smart Columbus Operating System, a first-of-its-kind smart city data management platform that will better enable Columbus to understand and analyze data to address complex urban challenges. The operating system,, will ingest, aggregate, fuse and disseminate mobility data from sources across the city so that it may be used by the public and private sectors to achieve the vision of empowering residents to live their best lives through responsive, innovative and safe mobility solutions. 

“Fundamental to ‘becoming smart’ as a city is discovering how to use data to improve city services and quality life for residents,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “When we apply data to the challenges we experience as a city, we can transform outcomes in education, employment, healthcare and even access to healthy food. Today’s initial launch of the Smart Columbus Operating System is a major milestone in our smart city journey, as we are now better able to analyze, interpret and share data that will help us solve critical challenges and inspire innovation.”

Development of the operating system is funded by the $40 million federal grant awarded to Columbus as the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. The operating system serves as the technical “backbone” for projects within the USDOT grant portfolio, capturing and disseminating data that will be used to deliver, optimize and measure the performance of eight technology demonstrations funded by the grant. 

In its initial state, the Smart Columbus Operating System publishes 1,100 data feeds curated by the Smart Columbus team to help address six mobility-related challenges faced by Columbus residents. Sample datasets include foodbank data that may be used to help hungry families access groceries; the locations of low bridges in Franklin county, which may be used to help prevent dangerous bridge strikes by oversized trucks; and data on geographic concentrations of older adults, which may be combined with public transit data to identify ways to better serve the mobility needs of Columbus seniors. 

“Through research conducted with residents and community partners, we’ve identified real mobility challenges felt by real people—residents, freight operators, non-profits, city officials and more,” said Michael Stevens, Chief Innovation Officer for the City of Columbus. “We’ve also identified collections of data that, when applied in new ways, stand to transform today’s outcomes. We’re publishing this data through the operating system and calling on the public and private sectors to join us in harnessing this data to create real solutions.”

Data housed within the operating system is opens; each dataset is published with the intent that public or private sector developers may leverage the data to address community challenges. The operating system itself is developed in open source code, meaning other cities may leverage the code to fast-track development of their own data management platforms.

“Releasing this first version of the Smart Columbus Operating System, populated with use cases and relevant data, is an important milestone to fueling our emerging smart city ecosystem,” said Ben Blanquera, Vice President, Delivery and Experience for the Columbus Collaboratory and co-leader of the 100+ member Smart Columbus Operating System Working Group, which is advising the development of the operating system. “Our next challenge will be to build the ecosystem for developing solutions that we can progress from idea, to testing and ultimately production—by doing so, we have the potential to positively impact the citizens of central Ohio and create a necessary condition for smart city startups to be created and relocated here.”

Applications of the Smart Columbus Operating System and the initial datasets will be tested during the Smart City Hackathon, May 18-20 at Fintech71 in Columbus. During the Hackathon, teams of developers, designers and entrepreneurs will be presented with smart city problem statements and empowered to develop new technology apps or solutions using the operating system data. Leaders from local startups, technology firms and social service providers will coach the teams throughout the event, and teams will pitch their solutions to a panel of judges on the final evening. The team with the best pitch will be provided resources to continue implementing their solution.

"Buy-in and adoption by the tech and startup community is critical to realizing the vision of the Smart Columbus Operating System," said Jay Clouse, founder of Unreal Collective and organizer of the Smart City Hackathon. "Events like the Hackathon and meetups around open data will be a vital part of engaging the greater community to utilize this platform to solve real problems."

Developers will incorporate learnings from the Hackathon into the continued development of the operating system. New datasets and operating system features will be deployed in two-week sprints leveraging Agile development methodology for the duration of the USDOT grant program, which concludes in 2021. 

“Successfully executing on the Smart Columbus Operating System will be a collaborative effort which must focus on craftsmanship, security and frequent value delivery," said Bob Myers, CEO of Pillar Technology, which was awarded a $2.5 million contract by the City of Columbus to support the continued development of the operating system. "We feel that the stars are aligned for Pillar, Smart Columbus and its partners to deliver something truly innovative."


About Smart Columbus
The City of Columbus’ Smart Columbus plan won the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) $40 million Smart City Challenge in June 2016 after competing against 77 cities nationwide to become the country’s first city to fully integrate innovative technologies – self-driving cars, connected vehicles and smart sensors – into its transportation network. Columbus was also awarded an additional $10 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Philanthropies to accelerate the transition to an electrified, low-emissions transportation system. Aligned investments totaling more than $500 million have been made by the private, public and academic institutions in the region to support technology and infrastructure investments that upgrade Columbus' transportation network and help make Columbus the model connected city of the future. Smart Columbus is a regional smart city initiative co-led by the City of Columbus and Columbus Partnership that includes partnerships with The Ohio State University, Battelle, American Electric Power and many more. 

For more information, visit the Smart Columbus website

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