Smart Columbus Operating System

The Goal

The Smart Columbus Operating System is the nexus where our city becomes “smart.” By ingesting, visualizing and sharing open, secure data, the Operating System will equip public sector officials and private sector innovators to use data to activate insight

In May of 2017, the vision of an Integrated Data Exchange of local data emerged and by December of that same year a beta version of the system was launched – what we now call the Smart Columbus Operating System.

Less than one year later, in April 2018, the Smart Columbus Program Management Office launched version 1.0 of the Operating System which has been nurtured not only by the development team building it, but also informed and supported by the community in small working groups under the umbrella term of ‘Technical Working Group.’ The Technical Working Group, which include tech leaders from public and private sectors, provided advisement on DevOps and data acquisition strategies, as well as recommendations in the areas of data management/policies, security, identity access management, metadata strategy, open source planning and key performance indicator data to help measure performance of USDOT portfolio projects.

In May of 2018, Smart Columbus hosted a Smart City Hackathon where about 120 civic hackers spent the weekend developing applications that leverage the data in the Operating System. Featured data stories included helping to solve challenges in our local community including improving food access, easing parking concerns, dynamically managing traffic and enhancing mobility options for seniors. This same month, the Smart Columbus Program Management Office extended and enhanced the functionality of the Operating System.

The 4th quarter of 2018, the team demonstrated the functionality of displaying near-real time streaming data by launching a ‘Buses on a Map’ feature in partnership with Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). This app displays bus locations and direction; it is featured as a Data Story and is available for use by bus riders at A data and analytics tool (JupyterHub) was launched with an invitation for beta-testing from developers and data scientists.



The Operating System, a dynamic data platform, serves as the backbone to smart city projects. New features of the 2.0 version launched on April 22, 2019 include: preparations to stream more near-real-time data; the use of open source tools, and architecture built in a way to increase the flexibility of the system.

The Operating System currently stores over 3000 datasets; examples of datasets include: Traffic Characteristics, City Infrastructure Inventory, Crash Records, Weather Readings, Emergency Response Times, Food Services, Parking Locations and Health Behaviors. A Data Management Plan and Data Privacy Plan inform how the system technically ensures privacy of data.  Data has been made available to the Operating System from USDOT projects including Connected Electric Autonomous Vehicle (CEAV) projects, Mobility Assistance for People with Cognitive Disabilities (MAPCD) and Multi-Modal Trip Planning (MMTPA). CEAV data project has been ingested and is available publicly.

The Operating System team engages a range of stakeholders for active feedback around both user needs and user experience. They span the public and private sectors and include: city agencies, nonprofits, academics, entrepreneurs, data scientists and app users (of USDOT-funded portfolio projects). The Technical Working Groups continue to provide guidance in sharing best practices around data management, open source community management and plans for longer term operations and maintenance strategies.

Select city agencies will pilot tools that leverage the Operating System to deliver agency efficiency benefits. The Operating System team seeks data to support use cases that solve distinctive mobility challenges experienced in the Central Ohio region. All data is evaluated by a data curator and must align with a Data Management Plan and Data Privacy Plan.



The Operating System development team operates with an agile development methodology, releasing new features based upon a product roadmap that aligns with USDOT grant milestones. As part of the grant requirements, the Operating System will be released as an open source platform in two phases: the first on June 18th, 2019 and the second on October 20th, 2019. The team is committed to building a scalable, extensible, portable, sustainable platform. Additional hackathons to engage the programming community will be arranged before the end of 2019.

A core feature to look forward to is a series of visualization tooling that will not require a programming background. These tools will allow data to be visualized via graphs, charts, dashboards and/or maps. Additional visualization tools will be released in October 2019 that will allow the ability to analyze data from multiple datasets.

Another key feature is the ability to host applications that can be shared with other applications. For example, hosting the Payment Broker for Common Payment Systems and the Trip Optimization Engine of the Multi-modal Trip Planning Application. The team will continue to engage the community through collaborating with city agencies to improve their processes and ability to serve the community.

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Learn about the Smart Columbus Operating System

The Smart Columbus Operating System is the backbone of all the USDOT-funded projects.