Success in the Midwest
Smart Cities Lessons from Ohio
Ohio has emerged as a Smart Cities rising star since the city of Columbus won the US Department of Transportation’s $140 million Smart City Challenge last year, resulting in statewide and regional transportation advances happening at breakneck speed.
Thea Walsh, Transportation Systems and Funding Director for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, joined Venture Smarter founder Zack Huhn and a panel of public-private Smart Cities experts at the Intelligent Transportation, Systems, and Infrastructure in Smart Regions panel discussion hosted at last month’s Smart Regions Conference in Washington, DC.
“Coordination is the key to making good local and regional smart infrastructure decisions,” Walsh said. “By working with the private and public sectors, better ideas are coming to life,” she said.
Huhn agreed, adding, “Connectivity is the foundation of Smart Cities planning. By achieving equality in access to technology, and by connecting people, places and things, we can deploy solutions to vastly improve quality of life across the region and the country, just as Columbus and other Ohio cities are doing now,” he said.
At the state level, Walsh said leaders have recently formed programs such as Drive Ohio, which aims to solve parking, traffic congestion and traffic casualty problems with autonomous vehicles and other important initiatives.
“The state continues to actively invest in growing tech-based and tech-enabled economies to improve overall quality of life throughout the state and the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana region,” Walsh said.
Uber’s Dave Barmore, another participant on the panel, described a mission to understand and improve the “future of the curb,” with Cincinnati as an exciting test ground.
"Cincinnati has more Fortune 500 companies per capita than Chicago, LA and even New York City. So we asked ourselves how we can provide those major corporations with the tools to help employees commute more efficiently," Barmore said.
But smart transportation advances in Ohio aren’t isolated to commercial matters, according to Chief of Police Tom Synan for the City of Newton, OH.
“Strong public policy that takes advantage of the Internet of Everything and its data is needed for more than day-to-day traffic improvements,” Synan said.
“In the City of Newtown, hot spots allow law enforcement to track overdoses and treatment,” Synan said. “That data helps predict future overdoses for the long-term goal of eliminating them,” Synan said.
Synan explained the value of using available data in handling the rising problem of opioid and other addiction problems at the emergency response level.
What treatment centers are open right now?
Do available treatment centers accept Medicaid?
What other insurance do they take?
“Smart transportation gets people and products where they need to be to support economies, solve congestion, lower emissions and improve the overall social experience,” Huhn said. “Emergency response improvements are as important to society as solving day-to-day congestion problems,” he said.
Walsh said a push is on for collaboration among the private sector and government agencies to solve regional problems in transportation, infrastructure and the economy.
As a result, Central Ohio remains busy and focused on the opportunities, challenges and potential outcomes for smart transportation progress.
Walsh laid out a long list of Smart Cities/Smart Regions projects in Ohio, including projects funded by the USDOT award, a Hyperloop top 10 Global Challenge award and others:
USDOT Smart Cities Challenge
Platooning and Connected Trucks.
Airport Hyperloop Connection.
45,000 downtown employees will have free bus passes.
Private sector, building owners, agencies all contribute to the pilot project, that if successful, will be scaled.
A commuter app that shows all transportation options including the cost of driving a personal car, expected calories burned by walking or biking, and alternative routes.
Available anywhere in the state of Ohio, not just Mid-Ohio.
Metropolitan and Rural Planning Organizations.
Huhn added to the list of impressive Ohio Smart Cities milestones with an announcement of the first Congressional Caucus on Smart Cities.
He also highlighted the nation's first Regional Smart Cities Initiative, as well as the Cincinnati-based public-private-partnership (Smart Cincy) between The City of Cincinnati, The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, The University of Cincinnati, CVG International Airport, and more than 750 businesses and organizations dedicated to building a Smarter Greater Cincinnati.
The regional initiative is hosting its second annual Smart Cincy Summit at Union Hall in Cincinnati (space is limited). The event will focus on smart transportation and infrastructure and take place on April 26th, 2018.