If Columbus, Ohio, wins the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, it will receive about triple the amount of money the federal government is promising to dole out to test high-tech mobility solutions.
That’s because the city has received word from the Columbus Partnership, a group of local businesses, that it will provide an additional $90 million to Columbus should it win the DOT’s $40 million, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Another $10 million is available from the investment firm Vulcan for electric vehicle projects, along with a bevy of free technology and services from companies ranging from Alphabet to Mobileye.
Columbus is one of seven finalists for the prize, and the announcement comes just after Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx swung through Columbus on a tour of all seven cities. The DOT expects to announce the winner of the Smart City Challenge in June.
Representatives of most of the cities have spoken about their ability to stretch the $50 million prize by leveraging partnerships with local entities, but Columbus is the first to announce a massive effort to raise money to augment the prize.
Columbus' plan for the money involves several different systems the city would build to test new technologies, connect underserved people to opportunity and lay the groundwork for more efficient transportation. Among the ideas are:
Randy Bowman, assistant director of the Columbus Department of Development, said that the goal would be to make Columbus a center of innovation for transportation systems that could develop lessons to be spread throughout the country. Columbus is nearby several large population centers — not the least of which include Kansas City, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati — and he said the city would want to welcome in people looking to develop better transportation systems elsewhere.
“We believe that our approach will demonstrate how you can adopt our technology,” Bowman said.
The other finalists in the Smart City Challenge are Pittsburgh; Kansas City, Mo.; Denver; Portland, Ore.; and San Francisco.