COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It’s been one year since the city of Columbus won the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart Cities Challenge. A victory that put some $50 million dollars in federal grants into the hands of city leaders. Since then leaders have been putting that money to work in an effort to make Columbus the nation’s first Smart City.
In 12 months city leaders have leveraged that first $50 million into more than $500 million in investments from private and public sector partnerships. Between grants and local matching, Smart Columbus is well on its way to start turning Columbus into the testing ground for technology-intelligent transportation systems that would soon mean big things for central Ohio from autonomous vehicles to electric cars.
“Our journey to being smart starts with transportation,” Jordan Davis, the Director of Smart Cities in Columbus said. “Using data and technology to improve people’s lives.” Davis and her team have been focused on organizing a team and building for what’s next when it comes to moving you from here to there, faster, cheaper and safer, “We have been talking with every automotive manufacturing company on what they are doing in innovation and what they would be willing to bring to Columbus,” Davis said.
Immediate changes we will soon start seeing are more electric car charging stations, “New apps introduced, new mobility services introduced, a lot of organizing for the future,” Davis said.
Investors range from The Ohio State, to Nationwide and AEP.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for us, and we are just getting started,” Mark Patton, the Vice President of Smart Cities said. The goal is $1 billion the end of the first phase of the program in 2020.
“Our most important thing is economic development for the entire region,” Patton added.
How is that money working for you?
Right now it’s focused on infrastructure, $170 million from AEP is working installing nearly a million smart meters, adding 1200 charging stations for electric cars and developing a power grid that can handle the requirements of a Smart City.
Over the next three years, Columbus residents will start seeing new technology on our streets, from driverless shuttles at Easton, street lights that act as wireless internet hubs, to traffic signals that interact with emergency vehicles.
As the city moves forward with its plan it must also take notes, the city must execute its proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation and relay information and lessons learned by 2020.
“Columbus has the opportunity to be the teacher for the world on how you do this right,” Davis said of the venture.
If you are looking for self-driving cars, you will have to wait a bit, Smart City leaders say they won’t appear until likely 2019.