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Robin Davis
Director of Media Relations
614.645.2425
rcdavis@columbus.gov

Melanie Crabill
Communications Manager
614.645.5300
mjcrabill@columbus.gov

Media Advisory
News Date: September 14, 2016

U.S. Department of Transportation and Columbus Hold Smart City Challenge Kick Off Meeting

COLUMBUS, OH - The City of Columbus wrapped up a two-day kick-off with the United States Department of Transportation, representatives from federal, state and city government, philanthropy, universities, NGO’s and the private sector on Tuesday.  These parties are united around the single goal of solving Columbus’ transportation challenges using technology and innovation.  This meeting comes on the heels of receiving the U.S. DOT’s fully executed Smart City Challenge Demonstration Cooperative Agreement on August 30. This agreement authorizes the City to begin planning and implementing its “SmartColumbus” vision for the $40 million grant.  

“Since winning the Smart City Challenge, we have been working closely with our public and private partners to get this work underway,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “This kick-off marks the first step in what is going to be a learning experience for all of us – and one we are eager to share with the world. We know everyone wants to know how they can get involved; we ask for everyone’s patience while we get organized to deliver on our commitments.” 

Columbus won the Smart City Challenge in June after competing against 78 cities nationwide. U.S. DOT noted that Columbus won because it “put forward an impressive, holistic vision for how technology can help all residents move more easily and to access opportunity. The City proposed to deploy three electric self-driving shuttles to link a new bus rapid transit center to a retail district, connecting more residents to jobs. Columbus also plans to use data analytics to improve health care access in a neighborhood that currently has an infant mortality rate four times that of the national average, allowing them to provide improved transportation options to those most in need of prenatal care.”

“The Smart City Challenge was a bottom up approach that empowered leaders at the local level to identify challenges and propose solutions that would improve people’s lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Our team is excited to work with Columbus to reimagine its transportation system, harness the power and potential of data and work with the other six finalists in a collaborative way to identify creative synergies, learn from each other and build capacity necessary to ensure their sustainability and help to replicate success.”  

The City of Columbus is matching the U.S. DOT with $19 million of its own funds, along with $90 million in pledges from the public and private sector partners. 

“We are working closely with Mayor Ginther and his team to realize the SmartColumbus vision and even surpass the original goals,” said Alex R. Fischer, President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership. “We know that there is an important role for the private sector to play in this collaboration, and we are fully committed to maximizing this opportunity for the long term economic prosperity of our region.

“This is a catalytic opportunity for the region. We say this a lot, but we must go slow to go fast so that we set ourselves up for success with a smart, comprehensive community-driven strategy that brings all of our partners to the table.  Under the Mayor's leadership, I am confident we will get this done right for Columbus,” Fischer said.

Columbus was also awarded an additional $10 million grant from Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc., which will be directed toward promoting electric vehicles and building related infrastructure.

“Columbus is poised to demonstrate to cities across the country how to accelerate the transition to an electrified low-emissions transportation system,” said Spencer Reeder, Senior Philanthropic Program Officer for Climate and Energy at Vulcan. “We are excited the City of Columbus rose to the challenge and emerged from a competitive group of great American cities as the recipient of our philanthropic award. We are eager to see them chart a smarter path towards a sustainable mobility future that all cities can follow.”

The City has taken a number of steps since the grants were awarded in June:

•             Created a Program Management Office in the City of Columbus Department of Public Service. Aparna Dial, Deputy Director, and Randy Bowman, Assistant Director, will manage the effort.
•             Conducted a public procurement process and hired a team of consultants to assist with the planning and delivery of the grant. HNTB will assist with delivery of technical work associated with the U.S. DOT grant, CDM Smith will do the same with the Vulcan grant, and Engage Public Affairs, LLC will lead the communication and outreach efforts. Each consultant team includes a number of minority-owned and woman-owned firms.
•             Facilitated a number of technical workshops with U.S. DOT and Vulcan, Inc. to understand their expectations, establish roles, discuss strategy and reporting requirements.
•             Updated Columbus.gov/smartcolumbus to reflect current information regarding the grant and benefits to residents, including economic development and an enhanced, sustainable transit system.
•             Established the smartcolumbus@columbus.gov email where interested vendors can reach out to the project management team to ask questions and inquire about potential partnership opportunities.

The City of Columbus will collaborate with Austin, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland and San Francisco to share best practices to help replicate success. Public roll-out of the various Smart Columbus pilot projects will begin in 2017. The City will engage residents, community and business leaders and technical experts during the four-year program, and seek their participation in making this a sustainable effort beyond 2020.  

For more information, visit Columbus.gov/smartcolumbus.