All the tech that went into turning Columbus, Ohio into a ‘Smart City’ – TechCrunch

The U.S. Department of Transportation launched a Smart City Challenge in 2015, which requested mid-sized cities throughout the nation to provide you with concepts for novel good transportation programs that would use knowledge and tech to enhance mobility. Out of 78 candidates, Columbus, Ohio emerged as the winner.

In 2016, the metropolis of slightly below a million residents was then awarded a $50 million grant to show its proposal into a actuality. $40 million got here from the DOT, and $10 million from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. 

In mid-June, the program ended, however Columbus stated the metropolis would proceed to work as a “collaborative innovation lab,” utilizing metropolis funds to combine know-how to handle societal issues. But what does that imply in actuality? 

Columbus’s ‘Smart City’ appears nothing like the quickly creating prototype Toyota is creating, Woven City, at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, but it surely’s not alleged to. 

“We really focus on not just demonstrating technology for technology’s sake, but to look at the challenges we are facing in our city around mobility and transportation and use our award to focus on some of those challenges,” Mandy Bishop, Smart Columbus program supervisor, advised TechCrunch. 

Those challenges contain lack of accessibility to mobility choices, areas underserved by public transit, parking challenges, and horrible drivers with excessive collision charges. As you would possibly anticipate, a lot of startups are concerned in fixing these challenges; Here’s who’s concerned and what they bring about to the desk. 

The Pivot app, constructed by Etch

Etch is a Columbus-based geospatial options startup. Founded in 2018, the firm minimize its enamel with Smart Columbus, creating a multi-modal transport app that helps customers plan journeys all through central Ohio utilizing buses, trip hailing, carpool, micromobility or private automobile. 

“The mobility problem in Columbus is access to mobility and people not understanding or knowing what options are available to them,” Darlene Magold, CEO and co-founder of Etch, advised TechCrunch. “Part of our mission was to show the community what was available and give them options to sort those options based on cost or other information.”

The app relies on open supply instruments like OpenStreetMap and OpenTripPlanner. Etch makes use of the former to get up-to-date crowdsourced information from the neighborhood about what’s taking place in a given space, much like Waze. The latter is used to search out itineraries for various types of mobility.

“Because we are open source, the integration with Uber, Lyft and other mobility providers really gives users a lot of options so they can actually see what mobility options are available, other than their own vehicle if they have one. It takes away that anxiety of traveling and using that mixed mode of travel, knowing in real time where the bus is or where to find a scooter, and  like using Uber or renting a bike or scooter.”

$1.25 million of the whole federal funds went to the Pivot app, which has 3,849 downloads to this point, and the metropolis will proceed to fund the improvement and use of Pivot.

Smart Columbus Operating System, made by Pillar Technology

Columbus employed native good embedded software program firm Pillar Technology, which was acquired by Accenture in 2018, to additional develop the current Smart Columbus working system. The $15.9 million open supply platform that hosts the metropolis’s mobility knowledge, together with over 2,000 datasets and 209 visualizations, launched in April 2019. 

“The program will continue through at least January 2022 as Columbus works to develop mobility and transportation use cases and further define the value and use of the operating system,” stated Bishop.

The Smart Columbus OS invitations others so as to add their knowledge to the set whereas additionally calling for crowdsourced options to issues like methods to carry down crash charges or methods to optimize metropolis parking. 

Park Columbus, made with ParkCell

ParkCell is an Atlanta-based supplier of good parking options. For Smart Columbus, the startup created Park Columbus, an occasion parking administration app, to assist release visitors and air pollution from vehicles circling round on the lookout for parking. Users can discover, reserve and pay for parking all on the app. 

Smart Columbus’s occasion parking administration program constructed enhancements inside ParkCell’s current providing, based on a spokesperson for the metropolis. The $1.3 million undertaking had over 30,000 downloads from October 2020 to March 2021. The metropolis will proceed to fund the app which will even show on-street parking by way of predictive analytic know-how. 

Smart Mobility Hubs, constructed by Orange Barrel Media

The Smart Mobility Hubs are interactive digital kiosks designed by Orange Barrel Media, a firm that builds media shows to combine into city landscapes. The hubs carry the metropolis’s transportation choices collectively at a single location, like a bodily manifestation of the Pivot app, which may truly even be accessed by way of the kiosks. The kiosks, which took one other $1.3 million chunk out of the whole federal grant pool, even have free WiFI and listings of eating places, retailers and actions. 

Orange Barrel’s media shows can differ from one thing neighborhood oriented like its kiosks to promoting to artwork. According to Smart Columbus, the kiosks, positioned at six key places, had over 65,000 interactions from July 2020 to March 2021, however the metropolis hopes that quantity will drastically improve in the post-pandemic period. The hubs additionally embrace the metropolis’s bike share program, CoGo, which gives each pedal and e-bikes, bike racks, designated dockless scooter share and bike share parking, rideshare pickup and drop off zones, automotive sharing parking and EV charging stations.

Connected automobile atmosphere, in partnership with Siemens

Ohio has a few of the worst drivers in the nation. This 12 months, the state highway patrol released details about distracted driving in the state, and located 70,000 crashes attributed to distracted driving since 2016, with greater than 2,000 involving severe accidents or fatalities. In 2019, an insurance coverage company rated Columbus the fourth worst driving in the country.

This would possibly clarify why the metropolis needed to experiment with related autos. From October 2020 to March 2021, Columbus partnered with Siemens who supplied each onboard and roadside models in creating a Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) and Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) atmosphere. Connected autos would “talk” to one another and to 85 intersections, seven of which have the highest crash charges in central Ohio. The undertaking price about $11.3 million. 

“We were looking at 11 different applications including red light signal warning, school zone notifications, intersection collision warning, freight signal priority and transit signal priority, using the connected vehicle technology,” stated Bishop. 

“We deployed about 1,100 vehicles in a region that has about a million residents, so we did not anticipate seeing a decreased crash rate, but we did see drivers using the signals coming from the connected vehicle environment to not run traffic signals, so we’re really seeing improvements in driver behavior, which ultimately we would anticipate long term to effectively improve safety.”

Linden LEAP, made by Easy Mile

Smart Columbus’s autonomous shuttle service, the Linden LEAP, price about $2.3 million and ran from February 2020 till March 2021, with some breaks in between. Initially, two shuttles hitting 4 stops operated in the Linden neighborhood to supply transportation to underserved communities. That solely lasted about two weeks earlier than a passenger was one way or the other thrust from their seat when the automobile, going not more than 25 miles per hour, stopped quick. Then the pandemic occurred, and it was a human shuttle service not. From July till the finish of the program, the Linden LEAP pivoted to ship 3,598 meals pantry bins or nearly 130,000 meals. 

The metropolis won’t proceed to pay for the autonomous shuttle service now that federal funding has ended. 

“The city is not historically a transit operator, so we’re really staying close to how CoTa looks to incorporate connected and autonomous and electric technology into their fleets moving forward,” stated Bishop. “Our anticipation is that the next demonstrations would be private sector led or ultimately led by our transit authority.”

French startup Easy Mile ran the Level 3 autonomous know-how behind the shuttle, based on a spokesperson for the firm. The Society of Automobile Engineers describes Level 3 as nonetheless requiring a human operator in the driver’s seat. 

Columbus’s dalliance with autonomy initially started in late 2018 when Smart Columbus partnered with DriveOhio and May Mobility to launch the Smart Circuit, the metropolis’s OG self-driving shuttle. The shuttle ran a 1.5 mile route circling the Scioto Mile downtown, giving out over 16,000 free rides to sure cultural landmarks till September 2019. 

Smart Circuit solely price about $500,000, however the metropolis spent one other $400,000 on common improvement for the whole autonomous shuttle program.

Prenatal Trip Assistance, constructed by Kaizen Health

Kaizen Health, a woman-owned know-how agency, constructed its preliminary software after being dissatisfied with transportation choices out there to individuals present process well being remedies. The Chicago-based firm utilized its mannequin of streamlining the expertise of ordering non-emergency, multimodal medical transportation for pregnant ladies and households.  

The program obtained $1.3 million in Smart Columbus funds from June 2019 to January 2021, however solely had about 143 individuals as a consequence of the pandemic, however that contains over 800 medical care journeys and over 300 pharmacy, grocery or different service-related journeys. In a state that averaged 6.9 deaths for every 1,000 babies the 12 months this program started, it’s a good factor the collaborating Medicaid managed care organizations are actually modernizing how they ship non-emergency transportation providers, together with entry to such a cellular software.

Mobility help for individuals with cognitive disabilities, in partnership with Wayfinder

The tech accomplice for the last undertaking was Wayfinder, a navigation app that was acquired by Vodafone in 2019. The Mobility Assistance for People with Cognitive Disabilities (MAPCD) research labored with Wayfinder to create a extremely detailed, turn-by-turn navigation app particularly constructed for many who have cognitive disabilities, making it safer for these individuals to be extra impartial. 

The pilot price almost $500,000 and lasted from April 2019 to April 2020. Thirty-one individuals used the app to get extra comfy utilizing public transport. According to a spokesperson for the metropolis, Columbus is working with potential companions to search out a method to maintain the program. 

Looking in direction of the future

One of the focuses of Smart Columbus was additionally electrical automobile adoption and charging infrastructure. The cash from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and AEP Ohio, the state’s utility supplier, helped incentivize and encourage multi-unit dwellings, workplaces and public websites to put in charging stations. Smart Columbus exceeded its objective of 900 EV charging stations, in addition to its objective for 1.8% of recent automotive gross sales to be electrical, reaching 2.34% in November, 2019.

“In the future I think something that’s here to stay is really ensuring that we’re solving resident challenges in a way that makes sense for our community,” stated Bishop.

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