Columbus wins $50 million "Smart City" competition

Street Smarts

Columbus wins $50 million "Smart City" competition


Columbus, Ohio has been named the winner of the Department of Transportation’s $50 million “Smart City” grant. Columbus was up against San Francisco, Portland, Austin, Pittsburgh, and Denver for the prize. Each city was asked to demonstrate how new technologies can improve urban transportation.

Columbus’s application was based on improving access to jobs for low-income residents with shared cars and autonomous buses. The proposal included multimodal phone apps, electric vehicle charging stations, self-driving buses, and $90 million in pledges from Columbus companies. The city will enact its plans over the next four years, and a non-profit board will oversee the allocation of funds

Columbus plans to focus much of its prize money on the Linden neighborhood, an underserved part of the city. Linden has the worst access to jobs, medical services, and transit in all of Columbus. By providing new technologies and integrating other existing services, such as Uber and car sharing, the city hopes to increase resident’s access to amenities.

The original $40 million DOT grant was increased by $10 million from Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. Other cities have stated that they intend to continue to move forward with the plans they used to apply the grant. For instance, Kansas City is hoping to continue the public private partnerships developed during the competition. The DOT has also hinted at consolation prizes for the five other cities, but has not release details.