Ohio State to play a central role in implementing Smart City Challenge


University experts, transportation research were key in city’s bid

Researchers and facilities at The Ohio State University will play a central role as the collaborative Smart City team comes together under an unprecedented $140 million program to transform Central Ohio into the nation’s premier transportation innovation region.

Collaboration between Columbus and local partners, including Ohio State, helped the city beat out 70 competitors to be named the nation’s Smart City by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the grant at a news conference today in the city’s Linden neighborhood, which will see transportation upgrades under the grant.

Present at the announcement were Ohio State University President Michael Drake, Ohio State University Board of Trustee member and Columbus Partnership President and CEO Alex Fischer, U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, Vulcan, Inc. President and COO Barbara Bennett, Columbus City Council President Zach Klein, American Electric Power CEO Nick Akins and South Linden Area Commission member Stu Hampton.

Ohio State was the primary research partner on the proposal for the Smart City grant. Other partners include AT&T, Battelle, Car2Go, Central Ohio Transit Authority, Clean Fuels Ohio, CoGo, Columbus 2020, Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Columbus Partnership, Experience Columbus, General Motors, IBM, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, the Ohio Department of Transportation, Rev1Ventures and Uber.

Columbus will be awarded up to $40 million from the federal government to implement bold, data-driven ideas that make transportation safer, easier and more reliable. Also, Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. will award up to $10 million to support electric vehicle deployment and other carbon emission reduction strategies. In addition, central Ohio businesses and public organizations have pledged an additional $90 million to the project, including $15 million from Ohio State.

“The university is thrilled that Columbus has been selected to receive this transformational grant,” said Ohio State President Michael V. Drake. “We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the city to build a more connected community – and congratulate Mayor Ginther, our business and community leaders, and all who made this opportunity possible.”

Columbus’ application includes numerous transportation innovations. These include: the expanded use of smart and electric vehicles; technology solutions to address obstacles that low-income residents face in using transportation; the development of smart corridors to improve transit service and efficiency; enhanced quality and timeliness of traffic condition data along with a routing app for trucks to improve movement and delivery of freight; and real time information about traffic and parking conditions to minimize impacts associated with major events or incidents.

Ohio State worked with the City of Columbus on every element of the bid,” said Carla Bailo, assistant vice president for mobility research and business development at Ohio State. “We applied our leadership in research of connected and autonomous vehicles, as well as transportation systems and human behavior.”

Through its expertise in sensors, for example, Ohio State will play a major role in developing the initiative for a publicly available real-time traffic condition database.

Bailo and Joanna Pinkerton, Ohio State’s co-director of the Honda/OSU Partnership, coordinated involvement among university centers and affiliates, including the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), Crash Imminent Safety University Transportation Center, Transportation Research Center, Center for Urban and Regional Analysis, and Departments of Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

The university’s existing partnerships with mobility companies and vehicle manufacturers, industry groups and government agencies also helped contribute to the city’s comprehensive and winning approach. 

Category: Research