September 7th, 2021
Part of Smart Columbus’ goal is to increase the amount of transportation options that residents can use along with or instead of gas-fueled vehicles. And because the Columbus-region has a single occupancy vehicle commuter rate of 82 percent, we believe that nurturing smart mobility options is an essential step in the city’s growth.
The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has pledged $40 million to Columbus, as the winner of the Smart City Challenge. With this funding, Columbus intends to define what it means to be a “smart city” and serve as a model for other cities wishing to fully integrate innovative technologies, such as self-driving cars, connected vehicles and smart sensors, into the transportation network.
Smart Columbus is a laboratory for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and disseminating lessons learned and best practices to cities across the United States. We want to connect people by creating opportunity for city residents to better access jobs and services while improving the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation network. One of plans to do this is through creating a technology infrastructure for smart mobility hubs, which can include expanded bus service, shared bikes, scooters, electric vehicles and ride share services.
What is a smart mobility hub?
The primary functional component of the smart mobility hub will be an interactive kiosk. This device will incorporate “Hub Service” elements into a single standalone unit, along with USB charging, real-time travel information and direct access to mobility provider services.
Through community input, we identified the top locations to focus our smart mobility efforts on. It should be noted that the intent of the program is to deploy several hubs, document the process, and set the stage to eventually scale across the city with more hubs in the future.
After creating a geographic deployment plan, we identified our partner agencies in the development and deployment of the facilities. This was extremely important to ensure the sites have sustaining power following the life of the USDOT grant. In essence, these partners will continue to own and maintain the sites in perpetuity.
The rise of dockless modes of transportation, such as bikes and scooters, has elicited emotions and opinions across the country. In an effort to bring some order to the sites and as enabled in city rulemaking, we have identified the smart mobility hubs as the test case for designating dockless areas.
We also want stakeholders – and the larger ITS community – to provide input on how the proposed system should function, which will help build consensus and create a single vision for the system moving forward.
Lessons to consider:
- Ownership matters. It will drive what the agreements will look like between the city and the property owner and getting early buy-in on the long-term ownership of the smart mobility hub sites and their amenities is vital to the sustainability of the program.
- Be flexible. Over the last year, we had newly introduced transportation modes into the region – dockless bikes and electric scooters. We hadn’t originally planned for them but being agile throughout the process allows us to infuse changes. We also had one car share service leave our market only to be replaced by another. That gave us an opportunity to restart mobility provider discussions with the new provider to create the partnership and relationship.
- Engage the community. Public and stakeholder engagement is key to the success and usage of the smart mobility hubs. That input helped us narrow down the sites for the hubs and what services would be offered. It’s important not to assume you know where people are going – ask them to tell you and then try and solve the problem.
The webinar focuses on the Concept of Operations (ConOps) for the smart mobility hubs and the System Requirements Specification (SyRS) developed by the City of Columbus. The ConOps conveys a high-level view of the system to be implemented from the viewpoint of each stakeholder. It frames the overall system, sets the technical course for the project, and serves as a bridge between early project motivations and the technical requirements. The SyRS is intended to communicate the requirements of the smart mobility hubs to the technical community who will specify and build the system. The SyRS is a "black-box" description of what the smart mobility hubs must do, but not how it will do it. It also contains descriptions of inputs, outputs, and required relationships between inputs and outputs.
To learn more about Smart Mobility Hubs, see the webinar here.
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