Columbus, Ohio wins $40M DOT Smart City Challenge; $10M more from Vulcan, $90M from private partners
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that Columbus, OH has been selected as the winner of the US Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. (Earlier post.) As winner of the Challenge, Columbus will receive up to $40 million from US DOT and up to $10 million from Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. to supplement the $90 million that the city has already raised from other private partners to carry out its plan.
Using these resources, Columbus will work to reshape its transportation system to become part of a fully-integrated city that harnesses the power and potential of data, technology, and creativity to reimagine how people and goods move throughout their city.
The city proposed to deploy three electric self-driving shuttles to link a new bus rapid transit center to a retail district, connecting more residents to jobs. Columbus also plans to use data analytics to improve health care access in a neighborhood that currently has an infant mortality rate four times that of the national average, allowing them to provide improved transportation options to those most in need of prenatal care.
Each of the seven finalists put forward an array of thoughtful, intelligent, and innovative ideas that defined a vision for the future of the American city and formed a blueprint to show the world what a fully integrated, forward-looking transportation network looks like. The Smart City Challenge required each city to think about transportation as cross-functional, not in silos, but as a transportation ecosystem.
The bold initiatives they proposed demonstrated that the future of transportation is not just about using technology to make our systems safer and more efficient—it’s about using these advanced tools to make life better for all people, especially those living in underserved communities. While Columbus is the winner of the Challenge, we believe each city has come out of this process with a stronger sense of how to address transportation challenges with technology and innovation.—Secretary Foxx
US DOT received seventy-eight applications in total—one from nearly every mid-sized city in America. The Challenge called on cities to do more than merely introduce new technologies onto city streets, requiring them to boldly envision new solutions that would change the face of transportation in our cities by closing the gap between rich and poor; capturing the needs of both young and old; and bridging the digital divide through smart design so that the future of transportation meets the needs of all city residents.
The seven finalist cities that were announced at South by Southwest (SXSW) in March—Austin, Columbus, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland, and San Francisco—all presented innovative concepts, proposing to create new first-of-a-kind corridors for autonomous vehicles to move city residents, to electrify city fleets, and to collectively equip over thirteen thousand buses, taxis, and cars with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication.
Columbus was selected as the winner because it put forward an impressive, holistic vision for how technology can help all of the city’s residents to move more easily and to access opportunity.
Public-private partnerships were essential to the success of the Smart City Challenge. The Department announced partnerships with some of the most innovative folks in the private sector, including launch partner Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc., cloud partner Amazon Web Services, NXP Semiconductors, Mobileye, Autodesk, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, AT&T, DC Solar and Continental Automotive.
In addition, these seven cities were able to leverage US DOT’s $40 million grant to raise approximately $500 million more in funding—a vast majority of which comes from a diverse group of more than 150 partners. These partnerships illustrated the private-sector enthusiasm to help build an inclusive transportation system of the future.