Columbus Smart City Transportation Plans
About 400 people from around the world are meeting in Cleveland this week to share ideas how cities can use partnerships and technology to be more healthy, more inclusive, and more successful. The group wanted to know how Columbus won a national award to update its transportation system.
Columbus won a 40 million dollar Smart Cities grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation last year. The Vulcan Foundation threw in another $10 million and then businesses added to what is estimated to be a $500 million pot. So a lot of cities are watching.
Columbus Chief Innovation Officer Mike Stevens says a few plans include adding communication devices to 3000 vehicles – city and private- so officials can track the traffic patterns as it happens.
And a new idea is to help low income pregnant women to their doctors’ appointments
“Medicaid moms have their trips to the doctor’s office paid for them but they’re having trouble getting reliable transportation. How can we get into that system and improve the transportation so you don’t go the doctor’s office and take 9 hours out of your day because, chances are, the next time you have an appointment, you don’t go.”
Another is to supply self-driving shuttles to take people in poor neighborhoods to the city’s commercial center where the jobs are. The Columbus mayor has said “mobility is the great equalizer.”
The Columbus Smart City plan also includes electric cars. The electric company, AEP, has kicked in $175 million dollars for the project. The infrastucture plans are so new that it’s now asking the Public Utility Commission of Ohio whether it can give rebates to people who buy fast-charging stations and whether it is permitted to own car charging stations itself.