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July 28th, 2020

Three Smart Columbus Mobility Pilots Launch; Seeking Community Participation

Smart Mobility Hubs, Connected Vehicle Technology, and re-deployed Linden LEAP will enhance mobility, safety, and food support in the community.

COLUMBUS, OH – Mayor Andrew J. Ginther joined community leaders today for the unveiling of three Smart Columbus projects that will pilot new mobility technology to serve the needs of the community. Smart Mobility Hubs, Connected Vehicles, and the re-commissioned Linden LEAP seek to improve mobility, road safety, and community food support. The projects are funded by the $40 million grant awarded to Columbus, the winner of the 2016 Smart City Challenge, by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). The pilots will run through March 2021.

“Columbus won the Smart City Challenge because we had the vision and ambition to try new mobility technologies in a neighborhood to address the daily challenges residents face,” said Mayor Ginther. “Today, that vision comes to life. These mobility pilots in Linden will bring food to neighbors in need, connect residents to reliable and affordable mobility options, and help vehicles travel through the neighborhood more safely. I invite Linden to try the services we’ve designed for and with you, and to share your experiences, so that these technologies can help neighborhoods like yours throughout our community and the country.”

“The unprecedented impact from the COVID-19 pandemic showcases the importance of reliable transit service for our most vulnerable communities,” said COTA Chief Innovation Officer Sophia Mohr. “As the region’s mobility solutions provider, COTA is proud to partner with Smart Columbus to bring more transportation options directly to these neighborhoods and help connect people to social and economic prosperity. COTA is committed to never letting transportation be a barrier to opportunity.”

Activation of Smart Mobility Hubs to deliver first and last-mile solutions.

Cleveland Ave. is home to the City’s first and only Bus Rapid Transit line which provides faster and more frequent service to residents. However, getting to and from bus stops when it is too far to walk creates first mile/last mile challenges for many riders. While micro forms of transportation to address this issue exist, they are not centralized at convenient access points. 

Smart Mobility Hubs were created to aggregate multi-modal first mile/last mile solutions at accessible locations throughout the community to make traveling easier and more affordable. Mobility options at each Hub are unique to that location and include different combinations of CoGo conventional and e-bikes, scooter parking and charging docks, EV charging, ride-hail pick/up drop off points, and dockless scooter, bike, and car share parking.

“The Smart Mobility Hubs are a great example of the Columbus community living forward to turn today’s dreams into better tomorrows,” said Brian Ross, president and CEO of Experience Columbus. “By helping residents get their needs met during COVID-19, making it easier for our residents to explore within their own backyards and helping visitors easily traverse the city when travel resumes, this technology will be crucial in helping restore the city’s economy.” 

At the center of each Hub is an IKE interactive digital kiosk. Powered by IKE Smart City, a Columbus-based media and technology company, IKE provides free Wi-Fi, access to Pivot, Central Ohio’s multi-modal trip planning application, and detailed directory listings of nearby restaurants, shops, activities, social services, and other resources. In addition to supporting discovery and mobility, the kiosks display community content, public service announcements, and public art, and include an Emergency Call Button to improve public safety.

“It’s an honor to partner with Smart Columbus on this important initiative. The IKE platform merges smart city technology with dynamic content to enhance communities and contribute public benefit. Improving mobility is core to our mission and we’re thrilled to use our kiosks to help provide transportation amenities and trip planning resources that make it easier to move around Columbus.” said Pete Scantland, CEO of IKE Smart City.

“We’re thrilled to bring more mobility options to Columbus through the newly expanded CoGo fleet, now inclusive of classic pedal and ebikes,” said Chet Ridenour, Operations Manager for CoGo Bike Share at Lyft. “We recently launched our equity program, CoGo for All, as we work toward our vision of transportation equity and allow even more residents to access affordable, reliable transportation. We’re proud to partner with the City of Columbus and Smart Columbus on this bikeshare system.”

Smart Mobility Hubs are now open at Columbus State Community College, Linden Transit Center, St. Stephen’s Community House, the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Linden Branch, COTA’s Northern Lights Park and Ride, and Easton Transit Center.

Installation of connected vehicle technology that aims to improve road safety.

Linden is home to 7 of the 100 intersections that experience the highest volume of automobile crashes in central Ohio. Today, Smart Columbus is seeking 500 community volunteers interested in having connected vehicle technology installed in their personal vehicles. The equipment will provide real-time safety alerts intended to help drivers make more informed decisions while en-route to their destination. The seven-month study is designed to understand the impact of the technology on driver safety. The study will look specifically at anonymous data collected from vehicles traveling along Cleveland Ave. between 2nd Ave. and Morse Rd., High St. between 5th Ave. and Morse Rd., and Morse Rd. between High St. and Stygler Ave.  

Participants will be eligible for up to $315 in incentives for completing regular surveys about the program. Volunteers must be over 18 and drive at least three times per week within the study corridor. Visit ColumbusConnectedCars.com to learn more.

Private vehicles will be matched by 500-750 public vehicles that will include the City of Columbus fleet, Fire and Police vehicles, COTA buses and supervisor vehicles, Franklin County fleet vehicles, and ODW Logistics freight trucks.

“Siemens Mobility is proud to be part of this effort to bring the safety and personal mobility benefits of connected vehicle technology to the drivers of Columbus,” said Marcus Welz, President of Intelligent Traffic Systems, for Siemens Mobility in North America.  “This is a technology which has been effectively used in mega-cities like New York, or downtown Tampa in Florida.  Columbus is a great city to take advantage of this innovative technology, and its representative size, density and recent growth make it an ideal template for other similar cities to learn from.” 

In addition, Smart Columbus is seeking up to 10 individuals interested in becoming a “Connected Vehicle Technician In-Training” during the study. Participants will complete a paid training course and be placed at a local site to install the connected vehicle technology in public and private vehicles. Click here to view the position posting and to apply.

“Advanced vehicle technology like connectivity is increasingly becoming standard on new vehicles,” said Columbus City Council Member and Public Service Chair, Shayla Favor. “Through this study, we hope to not only keep drivers safer on our streets, but also create an immersive training experience that will help our local auto shops and technicians learn the ins and outs of this new technology with future applications in our cars and on our roadways.”

Re-launch of Linden LEAP to serve the surging need for food assistance.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, St. Stephens Community House in Linden has seen a spike in requests for food support. In April alone, its food pantry served 959 new households, a 461% increase over the same time last year. In partnership with Children’s Hunger Alliance and Seeds of Caring, St. Stephens also provides sack lunches for children affected by the COVID school closings.

To assist with the critical distribution of food, the Linden LEAP, an all-electric self-driving shuttle, is being recommissioned to transport pre-packaged food boxes from St. Stephen’s Food and Nutrition Center to the Rosewind Community Center. A trained operator will be on board, however no riders will be permitted due to coronavirus social distancing requirements. Families can meet the LEAP to receive a full box of food containing grains, meat, shelf-stable foods, fresh vegetables, fruit, and dairy. Anyone in Franklin County is eligible for one box each week and can pick it up Monday through Friday between the hours of 12 noon and 3 p.m. starting Wednesday, July 29. Free face coverings provided by the City of Columbus will also be offered.

“We have seen an unprecedented need for food during the current pandemic. About 20% of those in need do not have transportation to our center and the nearest bus stop is ½-3/4 of a mile away,” said Marilyn Mehaffie, CEO of St. Stephen’s Community House. “The Linden LEAP will help bridge the transportation gap, providing food at Rosewind.”

Sharad Agarwal, Senior Vice President of EasyMile, added “We are proud to be able to show the potential of our technology and how it can be leveraged to address emerging community needs like food insecurity through the delivery of food pantry boxes.”

Pilot results will be published in May of 2021.

Pilots will run through March 2021, with reporting provided to the USDOT and published via the Smart Columbus website in May 2021. Assessment of the program will incorporate technical data as well as survey feedback provided by residents. Data captured by the pilots will be free of personally identifiable information and will be ingested into the Smart Columbus Operating System to inform future Smart City work locally and beyond.

 

About Smart Columbus

The City of Columbus’ Smart Columbus plan won the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) $40 million Smart City Challenge in June 2016 after competing against 77 cities nationwide to become the country’s first city to fully integrate innovative technologies – self- driving cars, connected vehicles and smart sensors – into its transportation network. Columbus was also awarded an additional $10 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Philanthropies to accelerate the transition to an electrified, low-emissions transportation system. Aligned investments totaling more than $500 million have been made by the private, public and academic institutions in the region to support technology and infrastructure investments that upgrade Columbus' transportation network and help make Columbus the model connected city of the future. Smart Columbus is a regional smart city initiative co-led by the City of Columbus and Columbus Partnership that includes partnerships with The Ohio State University, Battelle, American Electric Power, and many more.

For more information, please visit smart.columbus.gov.

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