Columbus, Ohio wins federal 'smart city' challenge

The city gets up to $140 million to spend on self-driving shuttles, smart street lighting, transportation data analytics and other measures to improve city transportation.

The city of Columbus, Ohio beat out 77 other cities in the Department of Transportation (DOT) Smart City Challenge, winning up to $40 million from the federal government to implement a comprehensive plan to improve city transportation with technology. Columbus has also secured an additional $100 million in non-federal funding to carry out its plan.

Columbus will use the money "to prototype the future of transportation as part of the Obama Administration's efforts to accelerate game-changing technologies," the DOT announced Thursday.

Some of the city's specific plans include deploying electric self-driving shuttles on three fixed bus routes, testing connected vehicle technology in the Columbus freight district, including automated truck platooning and traffic signal management, deploying smart lighting, investing in electric vehicle charging stations, and creating an an integrated transportation payment system and a trip-planning app.

The companies that are collectively giving Columbus $100 million to implement its plan include Vulcan (giving $10 million), as well as NXP Semiconductors, Amazon Web Services, Mobileye, Autodesk, Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs, AT&T, and DC Solar.

The projected growth in IoT spending for smart cities has prompted tech companies and service providers to get involved in smart city initiatives around the globe: Cisco announced this year it's spending $500 million to make Berlin a smart city. Last year, Kansas City, Mo., announced a partnership with Sprint and Cisco to build a smart city framework.

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