Columbus Long_Strange_Trip_01 / Thinkstock
The Scioto river reflects Downtown Columbus Ohio. The Lights of the Rich Street Bridge are seen in the foreground spanning the Scioto River. This view is from the Scioto Mile Riverfront Park path.

The Smartest U.S. City of 2016

The capital city of Ohio has proven to be a true innovator, and has an award from the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge to prove it. 

Columbus has an ambitious plan to transform itself into a greener, more efficient city with an exceptionally high quality of life. This year, the city won the first smart city award from the Department of Transportation in history, which will help catapult the city into the future. First of all, the city won a $40 million grant from DOT that will be supplemented by $10 million from Vulcan Inc., Paul G. Allen’s project and investment company. That $50 million will be supplemented by an additional $90 million from private investors and partner companies.

Plans for the Future

The plans that secured Columbus the win are both ambitious and holistically minded. Rather than just tackling one or a few different areas of the city for modernization, Columbus plans to invest in a number of different areas to benefit residents, while supporting the local economy and attracting new investment. 

A new rapid transit system will connect consumers to the main retail district of the city, and self-driving electric shuttles will be a major aspect of this system. This transportation hub will not only provide easy access for consumers, but it will connect residents to jobs in the central districts of Columbus.

Healthcare is another major focus for the city, and the new rapid transit systems will provide residents with easier access to facilities. The city hopes its smart cities initiatives will help curb its stubbornly high infant mortality rate.

Columbus also will implement new RFID technologies that will help to streamline toll payments, monitor traffic flow, and plan for future expansion and improvements based on road usage patterns.

A Worthy Winner of an Unprecedented Award

In summary, Columbus is the perfect city win the inaugural Smart City Challenge because its plans put people first. Their innovations will help boost the economy and improve the quality of life in one of America’s largest business and educational centers and help ultimately inspire cities across the United States and the world to do the same.

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