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December 9th, 2020

Upgraded Pivot and ParkColumbus Apps Make Getting Around Central Ohio Easier Than Ever

Smart Columbus launches final two USDOT-funded projects, Multimodal Trip Planning and Event Parking Management

COLUMBUS, OH – Today, Smart Columbus launched new features in the Pivot and ParkColumbus apps, the culmination of the final two projects funded by the $40 million Smart City Challenge Grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2016. 

Central Ohio’s preferred navigation app, Pivot, is the product of the Multimodal Trip Planning project; it helps residents and visitors plan and pay for their local trips using one or more transportation options like COTA bus, ride-hailing, carpool, bikes, scooters, taxis and even personal vehicle or bike.

The new ParkColumbus features are part of the Event Parking Management project that aims to make Downtown Columbus and the Short North Arts District a better place to visit by reducing traveler frustration, congestion and vehicle emissions. The app upgrade brings private and public parking options together in one app to allow drivers to find, reserve and pay for most parking garages and some surface lots in Downtown Columbus and the Short North Arts District. Additionally, drivers can now see the likelihood of finding an on-street parking place.

“Despite the changes in mobility in our region due to COVID-19, I hold fast to the belief that mobility is the great equalizer of the 21st century. Smart Columbus continues to work as hard as ever to deliver on the long-range, innovative projects that are critical to moving our city forward, today and in the future. With today’s launch of new features in ParkColumbus and Pivot, we’re making good on our commitment to the community to use technology to improve mobility, and, as a result, people’s lives,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther.

Pivot Provides Easy Access to the Region’s Transportation Options
Smart Columbus has collaborated with Central Ohio’s mobility providers to bring their resources together to release the Pivot app. Pivot is a locally designed app that helps users get around using this area’s unique mix of transportation options, like a COTA bus, ride-hailing, carpooling, bike and scooter sharing, taxi service and even personal vehicle or bike. It offers real-time information about the mobility options closest to the user’s location, wherever they are in Columbus. Pivot users can link Pivot to their other mobility apps, allowing for easier payment processing for multimodal trips. Users can also customize their mobility preferences, so trip routing favors their preferences, quickest trip or least expensive route.

Participating mobility providers include: COTA, Campus Area Bus Service (CABS), Yellow Cab of Columbus, CoGo, Lime, Bird, Lyft, Uber and Gohio Commute.

“As transportation habits have changed, local mobility providers like myself have had to find new ways to engage and serve the mobility needs of our community.  Yellow Cab of Columbus is proud to partner with Pivot to help us connect with more people as travel increases,” said Morgan Kauffman, CEO of Yellow Cab of Columbus.

Pivot was developed locally by Etch, LTD, a woman-owned firm that specializes in customized geospatial solutions that streamline mobility and enhance user experience. “We’re excited to build on our past work with the City of Columbus and utilize our GIS expertise and local knowledge to create a first-of-its kind, open source, mobility app that brings private and public mobility options together in one place to better serve the residents of Central Ohio,” said Darlene Magold, CEO of Etch, LTD.   

Pivot Now Has Integrated Payment Options
Pivot made an early release in August 2019 with trip planning features only. Now, Pivot offers app-to-app payment portal linking from Pivot to partner mobility providers’ apps delivering a seamless user experience using the accounts a person already has set up with mobility providers.

Central Ohio residents are encouraged to download, use, and provide feedback on Pivot. Users can earn $25 up to 2,400 participants for responding to an in-app survey.

ParkColumbus Makes Parking Options More Accessible
The Event Parking Management project was conceived in partnership with Experience Columbus as part of a parking initiative to improve the visitor experience in 2016. At the time, the focus was about improving parking in Downtown Columbus and the Short North Arts District during major events like the Arnold Classic. 

“Even with major events cancelled this year due to COVID-19, Smart Columbus stayed the course with the development of the app to provide more parking options now, to make it easier to support local businesses who need our support more than ever, and for later, when major events start to resume,” said Mandy Bishop, Program Manager, Smart Columbus.“Experience Columbus and other participating partners including the Short North Alliance, the Downtown Special Improvement Districts and many parking providers have been diligent in maintaining their commitment to this initiative, which will be important to the continued vibrancy of the community going forward.”

“The Event Parking Management integration in ParkColumbus and Pivot app are prime examples of the Columbus community living forward to turn today’s dreams into better tomorrows,” said Brian Ross, President and CEO of Experience Columbus. “Ensuring ease of transportation makes it easier for our residents to explore within their own backyards and will help visitors seamlessly traverse the city when travel resumes, which will be crucial in helping restore the city’s vital tourism economy.”

ParkColumbus Uses City Data to Add On-Street Parking Availability Option
The Smart Columbus Operating System team worked with ParkColumbus developers to create a predictive model using payment transactions and on-street sensor data to show drivers the likelihood of finding an on-street parking space in Downtown Columbus and the Short North Arts District. Using a red/orange/green color-coded system, drivers can now see by parking zone how likely they are to find an on-street parking spot. To account for changes in parking habits due to COVID-19, the operating system team adapted the predictive model to shift to a rolling average of the last few months of data, rather than historical data from years past.

Partnering parking providers account for 87% of the private garages and surface lots in Downtown Columbus and the Short North Arts District and include: SP+, LAZ, Nationwide Realty Investors, Towne Park, Allpro Parking, Park Place, Citrin, Professional Parking, and CampusParc. 

ParkColumbus is a white-label app developed by ParkMobile, the leading provider of parking and mobility solutions in the U.S. “We’re pleased to bring the innovative new parking availability feature to the ParkColumbus app,” says Jon Ziglar, CEO of ParkMobile. “This makes it easier for residents to get around in places that they previously may not have visited due to parking concerns. With the enhancements to the ParkColumbus app, finding open spots will be easier than ever, reducing the need to circle the block looking for parking, which benefits both congestion and emissions in the areas served.”

Adding features to the Pivot and ParkColumbus apps completes the launch-phase of Smart Columbus’ eight U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City Challenge grant-funded projects. The demonstration period for the Multimodal Trip Planning and Event Parking Management projects will continue through March 31, 2021, after which time, project evaluation will take place for final reporting to be made available by May 31, 2021. Both Pivot and ParkColumbus will continue to be supported by the City of Columbus after the Smart City Challenge grant ends.

Editors’ Note: Videos from Mayor Ginther, Brian Ross, Mandy Bishop and transit riders Morgan Sith and Sasha Morales are available online for editorial use. Click here to access. 


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.

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