America's 'smart city' isn't getting smarter

Technical and bureaucratic barriers and the pandemic of many of Columbus' technology programs have disrupted Ohio State. In 2016, Columbus, Ohio defeated 77 small and medium-sized American cities by paying $50 million to convert. The Future of the Department of Transportation The Smart City Challenge was the first competition of its kind, which was envisioned as a prelude to starting a city adapting to new technologies that are suddenly becoming ubiquitous. Hail companies like Uber and Lyft were on the rise, joint ventures like Car2Go were upgrading their national profiles, and it looked like autonomous vehicles were about to happen.

"Our offer is revolutionary," the city wrote in its grant proposal, pledging to focus on projects to help the city's most disadvantaged neighborhoods. The plan includes plans to test Wi-Fi kiosks to help residents plan trips, plans to pay for buses and chill, find parking spaces, and autonomous shuttles and trucks connected to sensors. Five years later, the smart city challenge is over but The revolution never came, according to the project's final report released this month by the city's Smart Columbus program, the pandemic occurred just as some projects were taking off.Six kiosks around the city were used to plan just eight trips between July 2020 and March 2021. In February 2020, EasyMile launched a self-contained shuttle bus that transported passengers at an average speed of 4 miles per hour. Fifteen days later, a sudden brake took the passenger to the hospital and stopped service. The truck project was canceled. Only 1,100 people downloaded a program called Pivot To plan and book trips using cold vehicles, bikes, children's scooters, and public transportation.


The contrast between promising technology and reality in Columbus points to a shift away from technology as a silver lining, and a new tendency for the problems web apps can tackle on the streets of IRL The term "smart city" was a term Rigorous and meticulous marketing associated with urban optimism. Today, as citizens think more carefully about tech-savvy monitoring, the concept of sensors in every home doesn't look as bright as it once was.

However, Columbus officials insist that the smart city project was a failure, and in fact, the project's final report was a success. Columbus now wants to reconsider the term slider.

"It's not going to be a competition for people with more sensors or anything like that, and I think we'll be a little distracted at some point." Jordan Davis, director of Smart Columbus, an organization accused of continuing to challenge. Some challenging projects will continue. “How do we use technology to improve quality of life, solve social justice issues, reduce climate change and bring prosperity to the region?” Davis says.

Think about 2015, the goals of the technical solution to this challenge made sense. The future was fast approaching, and the Department of Transportation hoped its seed money would help a middle-class city like Columbus plan businesses for justice. When it chose the city, the agency said it was committed to providing more support for the project, influenced by a number of local businesses. "The challenge is to use advanced tools to make life better for all people, especially those who live in disadvantaged communities," said Secretary of State Anthony Foxx. “(He is now Lyft's chief policy officer.)

It is now clear that private companies cannot predict the future of cities and may not take the best interests into account,” says Davis. Choice Columbus led to an influx of offers from companies that are ultimately difficult to manage and "at times distracting." Meanwhile, Uber (and Lyft) has moved away from autonomous vehicles, especially after an Uber test vehicle crashed and a pedestrian was killed in Arizona, and Google's Pedestrian and Walking Lab promised to build Toronto's future neighborhood in 2017. But the project was in the middle of an epidemic last year. A bitter political battle with privacy advocates, local groups and developers led to the project's demise.


Smart city projects are underway around the world. Toyota out of Tokyo to build a car-friendly community Pavement lab for real estate developers was recently announced in a number of US cities The US is advising on "innovation plans" and "smart traffic" projects continue to be led by Alibaba in China, Malaysia and Macau.

In the end, the smart city revolution in Columbus may be too ambitious from the start. “A lot of people had high expectations from this project, and it may be too much,” said Harvey Miller, professor of geography and director of the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at Ohio State University, who helped plan and evaluate the challenge. . He noted that $50 million ($40 million from the federal government, $10 million from late Microsoft founder Paul Allen Vulcan) isn't a lot of money, especially over five years. It's not Columbus' fault that the industry made so many promises about The imminent arrival of self-driving cars.

“I think what Columbus did was to test revolutionary ideas.” “And I think they learned a lot, what’s useful and what isn’t.”

Read more here Columbus is turning More people are turning to electric cars

That said, according to Columbus: After the outbreak, the project turned an autonomous shuttle into a food bank delivery operation It took 500 boxes of food a month to a local food depot between summer 2020 and spring 2021, bringing it closer to those in need (The safety factor was always there to monitor the technology.) Twenty-seven Columbus residents with cognitive disabilities tested a program to help them navigate public transportation, and 70 percent were “satisfied.” Seventy pregnant women try an Uber-like service to get On medical appointments, compared to the control group If they did not use the required services, they were more likely to go to doctors, pharmacies and groceries. The report says that riding alone does not guarantee the birth of safer and healthier babies, but is suggested to be a "valuable contribution".

Five of the eight projects launched by the challenge will continue, including a city-wide “operating system” for data sharing between government and private agencies, smart kiosks and parking applications, and travel planning. Smart Columbus will also focus on providing broadband access to all of its residents who don't own it — a gap that officials say has become more prevalent during the pandemic. Davis, director of Smart Columbus, acknowledges that program rules sometimes make it difficult to shape projects according to the real needs of the community. They only had enough time to break out of the plan that had been put in place five years ago. "As the city progresses, it will rely on 'empathy and interaction' more than 'this is really cool technology coming out of the private sector,'" he says.

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America's 'smart city' isn't getting smarter
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