Columbus won the inaugural Smart Cities challenge from the DOT.

Check Out the Winning Pitch in the Smart Cities Challenge

How did Columbus, OH beat out other competitive cities like San Francisco, Denver, Portland, Pittsburg, and Kansas City to win $50 million in funding? By putting people over technology.

The city’s proposal puts people first, according to United States Secretary of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Writing in a blog post, Foxx explained that the city’s plan showed a clear determination to “reach beyond the tech savvy” and “to [solve] problems for their most vulnerable residents.” For instance, the city wants to gauge “connectivity of their transportation infrastructure is by linking it to the infant mortality rate.” The city's infant mortality rate has remained stubbornly high—nearly four times higher than the national average.

The fact that the Columbus was transportation plan was so broad, weaving together healthcare considerations, philanthropy, education, and business impressed Foxx, who had previously asked for cities in the competition to define what a “smart city” was. The contest gave the semifinalists a chance to prove that their vision was both ambitious but also realistic. 

“If we can do it in Columbus, we can do it anywhere,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther explained at a Smart Cities Challenge event earlier.

The city's proposal video shows renderings of its smart buses to ferry people to work centers, schools, hospitals, and other destinations.


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