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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Columbus Ohio as a Smart City

 Recall the anncement and  labeling, but not very much during the effort.   Looking for final report.   Learnings and more. 

Experiences in Smart City Challenges Such as in Columbus, Ohio, Sobering   By AI Trends Staff  

Four years ago, the first international AI City Challenge was conducted to spur the development of AI to support transportation infrastructure in a smarter way. Teams representing American companies or universities took the top spots.  

Last year, Chinese companies took the top three out of four competitions, and in June, Chinese tech companies Alibaba and Baidu swept the AI City Challenge, beating competitors from some 40 nations.  

The results were a payoff of investments in smart cities by the government in China, which is conducting pilot programs in hundreds of cities and has by some estimates half of the world’s smart cities, according to a recent account in Wired.  

China is investing more than the US in areas of emerging technology, according to Stan Caldwell, executive director of Mobility21, a project at Carnegie Mellon University to assist smart-city development in Pittsburgh. AI researchers in the US can compete for government grants, from the National Science Foundation’s Civic Innovation Challenge, or the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge.   

“We want the technologies to develop, because we want to improve safety and efficiency and sustainability. But selfishly, we also want this technology to develop here and improve our economy,” Caldwell stated in the Wired account.  

Final Report on Smart Columbus Cites Some Promising Endeavors 

The first Smart City Challenge sponsored by the US Department of Transportation selected Columbus, Ohio, to receive $50 million to be spent over five years to reshape the city’s transportation options by tapping into new technology. A final report recently issued by the city’s Smart Columbus Program described the effort as promising and falling a bit short.  

Part of it was bad luck. Several programs set to get off the ground hit just as the pandemic led to lockdowns in 2020, reducing demand for transportation options. “It was not supposed to be a competition for who has more sensors, or anything like that, and I think we got a little distracted at a certain point,” stated Jordan Davis, director of Smart Columbus, to Wired.   

His organization is charged with continuing the work of the challenge. He said the focus will be, “How do we use technology to improve quality of life, so solve community issues of equity, to mitigate climate change and to achieve prosperity in the region?”  

The selection of Columbus led to a flood of proposals from companies that proved difficult to manage. “A lot of people were expecting a lot from this project, and perhaps too much,” stated Harvey Miller, a geography professor and director of the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at Ohio State University, who helped plan and evaluate the challenge. “What Columbus did was test revolutionary ideas,” Miller stated. “They learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work.”   

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