Columbus, Ohio, has beaten six other cities in a U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City Challenge competition to promote the use of plug-in electric vehicles and develop an innovative future transportation system.
The city will receive up to $40 million in DOT grant money and an additional $10 million from Vulcan Inc., Microsoft co-founder and entrepreneur Paul Allen's philanthropic organization.
In addition, local businesses in Columbus have pledged $90 million to help the city carry out a campaign to spur EV use, according to a DOT press release.
The Columbus plan includes:
- Getting a commitment from CEOs of the city's top 50 businesses and institutions to purchase and drive electric vehicles and to install EV charging stations for employees.
- Expanding the city's electric vehicle fleet and integrating smart sensor data to improve traffic flow, cut accidents and reduce emissions.
- Installing significant solar and wind-generating capacity for charging.
- Deploying three electric, self-driving shuttles to connect a new bus or rapid transit center to a retail district.
- Distributing new commuter smart cards and an app that will cover transit fares, including bus fares and ride-sharing services.
Columbus plans to concentrate the Smart City technology in its Linden neighborhood, which currently has poor access to mass transit, jobs and health care resources.
Columbus "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," said the DOT press release.
A number of high-profile automotive technology players will participate in the city's project. They include Mobileye, the Israeli software company that develops camera-based vision systems to detect and avert collisions, and Continental AG, which supplies an array of electronics and safety technology.
"Columbus is known as the "Test Market of the USA' with retail stores and restaurants trying new concepts in Columbus before expanding across the country," said a statement from Robbie Diamond, president of the Electrification Coalition, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting electric vehicle use. The Electrification Coalition served as Vulcan's partner in the project.