THE VISION: To empower our residents to live their best lives through responsive, innovative and safe mobility solutions.
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation named Columbus the sole winner of the U.S. Smart Cities Challenge. As the recipient of two grants, $40 million from USDOT and $10 million from the Paul G Allen Family Foundation, Columbus was tasked with deploying a comprehensive portfolio of cutting-edge and integrated mobility pilot projects while also growing the EV market.
A Move Forward
Through a portfolio of eight projects, Smart Columbus demonstrated how emerging transportation technologies may increase opportunity and prosperity for residents.
The efforts had a positive economic impact on the region overall. The Ohio State University calculated that investments from the implementation of the USDOT award generated an estimated gross metropolitan product (GMP) of $173.39 million and generated or induced 2,366 jobs.
Connected Electric Autonomous Vehicles
Smart Columbus led 2 deployments of self-driving vehicles. The first one, deployed Downtown Columbus operated for 10 months and gave over 15,000 rides. The second deployment was in Linden, which during the pandemic transitioned its operation from passenger travel to food delivery, delivering nearly 130,000 meals and 15,000 masks to the Linden community.
Prenatal Trip Assistance
For pregnant individuals, getting to medical appointments is critical. Rides4Baby, prenatal trip assistance research study in partnership with The Ohio State University, established a web site, app and call center to offer a more convenient and reliable experience for expectant mothers to schedule non-emergency prenatal care and services. Smart Columbus and the City of Columbus were able to increase doctor visits significantly. In fact, of the 143 pregnant individuals with Medicaid coverage who participated the median trips went from two to 19.
Multimodal Trip Planning Application
The Pivot multimodal transportation planning app has been downloaded over 1,000 times supporting 447 trips amidst the pandemic, and can be used as travelers return to downtown. Pivot users reported easier transfer between different transportation modes and were more satisfied with their transportation options, travel time, distance and flexibility.
Event Parking Management
Finding parking is difficult in the Downtown or Short North Art District areas. With Federally funded improvements to the ParkColumbus app, drivers can now find, reserve and pay for parking all from their phone which is helping to reduce both traffic congestion and traveler frustration. In a survey, 87% of respondents found the app's features useful.
Smart Mobility Hubs
Six smart mobility hubs were constructed in Linden, at Columbus State Community College and at the Easton Transit Center to help fill transportation gaps between bus stops and traveler destinations. The hubs added six interactive kiosks, four scooter charging and bike share stations and one electric vehicle charging station to the neighborhood. The Linden hubs also represented the first expansion of bike share into an opportunity neighborhood.
Mobility Assistance for People with Cognitive Disabilities
Designed to enable individuals with cognitive impairments to travel more independently on the fixed-route bus service, the WayFinder app provided turn-by-turn navigation and support allowing users to safely and confidently get to their destination. A year after its launch, studies showed that:
- 91% of individuals who were using the app or received training were were able to travel at least once a week.
- 76% of participants demonstrated a high level of independence after using the app.
Smart Columbus Operating System
The Smart Columbus Operating System was built largely on open source software that is easy and cost-effective for other cities to implement. The operating system now contains more than 2,000 data sets that have been downloaded more than 220,000 times. The operating system is capable of processing near real-time data, streaming connected vehicle environment data every 15 seconds.