Columbus revs up smart city efforts

The winner of the Smart City Challenge has named a project lead and continues to gather funding and resources.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther named Mike Stevens, a former deputy director of the Columbus Department of Development, as the city’s first chief innovation officer and lead of its Smart City effort.

Stevens will work in tandem with Mark Patton, a former JobsOhio official who was hired as vice president of Smart Cities at the Columbus Partnership, according to the Columbus Business Journal.

Columbus was the winner of the Department of Transportation’s 2016 Smart City Challenge. In addition to bringing home $40 million in federal funding and $10 from Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc., the city has secured additional public and private investment pledges.

Since winning the challenge, the city has secured $277 million in local matching resources. Between the grants and the local matches, the smart city initiative has about $417 million available to turn Columbus into the testing ground for intelligent-transportation systems, the Columbus Dispatch reported. Additional resources have been pledged by Ohio State University, Ohio State, the Columbus Partnership, and the city and county.

Ginther said he wants to raise $1 billion in local resources for Smart Columbus by the end of 2020, the deadline for the city to execute its winning proposal and send data and lessons learned to DOT.

The city’s plans include a payment system for public transportation and app-enabled car services; autonomous vehicle testing; development and implementation of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology to reduce accidents and optimize traffic flow; electric vehicles and charging stations, carbon emission reduction strategies; and the implementation of smart traffic lights to adjust traffic patterns.

American Electric Power, which is contributing $181 to the effort, plans to build about 1,200 electric vehicle charging stations around the state and install about 894,000 smart meters, which will allow two-way communication between the utility and the meters, the Dispatch said.

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