Columbus Ohio Wins $40 Million Smart City Challenge

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Columbus, Ohio, hit the “smart city” jackpot recently by beating out 7 other US cities (finalists) to win the Smart City Challenge.

The US Midwestern city actually beat out 78 other cities (including the 7 finalists) to win the US Department of Transportation’s exciting new contest.

Columbus, Ohio Skyline Panorama via Wikipedia

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Anthony Foxx, US Secretary of Transportation, announced this competition last December, as a way to boost smart traffic, vehicle communication and autonomous vehicle use, amid the Obama’s Administration’s strategy of supporting an environmentally sustainable transition.

Seven finalists who lost out included Kansas City, Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), Portland (Oregon), Austin (Texas), Denver (Colorado), and San Francisco (California), all whom were seeking financial incentives to boost their own smart city visions.

Several key high-tech companies will also be assisting Columbus in its smart city infrastructure, including: Amazon Web Services, AT&T, DC Solar, Alphabets Sidewalk Labs, & NXP Semiconductors. Vulcan Inc. will give extra financial help to Columbus.

Columbus plans involve using data transportation analytics to improve its public transportation system, which includes building a rapid transit system. Its new rapid transit plan involves a 100% autonomous electric bus on three dedicated routes, connecting a new rapid transit center to a retail shopping center.

Meanwhile, the central Ohio city also plans on having “smart LED lighting,” adding EV charging stations, and adding vehicle-to-vehicle wireless communication data, largely thanks to sponsoring companies from this competition.

Cities play a critical role in developing the US economy. Consider that 20 of the top US cities contributed 52% of the US GDP. Factor in clean air and climate change concerns, and municipalities need deep infrastructure upgrades to make sure cities are meeting key 21st century demands.

With cities looking to meet sustainable economic needs, smart city concepts will play a critical role. The global smart cities market is estimate to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020, as cities look to capture exciting new advancements in smart lighting, energy efficiency, and water management.

I wonder who will win the next Smart City Challenge. Nonetheless, these types of competitions give much-needed incentives for city leaders in the US, along with urban planners, to be bold and creative in what they want their cities to look like.

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Adam Johnston

is expected to complete the Professional Development Certificate in Renewable Energy from the University of Toronto by December 2017. Adam recently completed his Social Media Certificate from Algonquin College Continuing & Online Learning. Adam also graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a three-year B.A. combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing & Communications in 2011. Adam owns a part-time tax preparation business. He also recently started up Salay Consulting and Social Media services, a part-time business which provides cleantech writing, analysis, and social media services. His eventual goal is to be a cleantech policy analyst. You can follow him on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or check out his business

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