Columbus crowned winner of US Smart City Challenge

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The city of Columbus, Ohio, has been selected as the winner of the US Department of Transportation’s (US DOT) Smart City Challenge.

As the winner of the Challenge, Columbus will be entitled to up to $40m in funding from US DOT and up to $10m 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 transport system so that it becomes part of a fully-integrated smart city.

According to US Dot, Columbus was selected as the winner as 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”. The city has proposed three electric self-driving shuttles to link a new BRT centre to a retail district, connecting more residents to jobs and using data analytics to improve access to health care.

“We are thrilled to be America’s first Smart City. Our collaboration between public, private and non-profit sectors is the perfect example of how we lift up our residents and connect all communities,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. “Smart Columbus will deliver an unprecedented multimodal transportation system that will not only benefit the people of central Ohio, but potentially all mid-sized cities.” US DOT received 78 applications in total, one from nearly every mid-sized city in America; the other award finalists included Austin, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland, and San Francisco.

The Challenge called on cities to propose new solutions that would change the face of urban transport 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 transport meets the needs of all city residents.

To learn more about the Smart City Challenge, visit   

UITP will be looking closely at the topic of autonomous vehicles in the coming months. For more on this and smart cities, join us at the UITP Global Public Transport Summit where they will be up for discussion.

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