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Columbus unveils smart city operating system

The platform can be used by private and public sectors and it will serve as the technical backbone for projects within the USDOT portfolio

The operating system is a major milestone in Columbus' smart city journey
The operating system is a major milestone in Columbus' smart city journey

Columbus has unveiled an operating system that will harness transportation data to tackle the US city’s mobility-related challenges.


The Smart Columbus Operating System smart city data management platform aims to enable Ohio’s capital city to understand and analyse data to address complex urban challenges and raise the quality of life.


Development of the operating system was funded by a $40m federal grant awarded to Columbus as the winner of the US Department of Transportation’s smart city challenge.


“Fundamental to ‘becoming smart’ as a city is discovering how to use data to improve city services and quality life for residents,” said mayor Andrew Ginther. “When we apply data to the challenges we experience as a city, we can transform outcomes in education, employment, healthcare and even access to healthy food.


“[The] initial launch of the Smart Columbus Operating System is a major milestone in our smart city journey, as we are now better able to analyse, interpret and share data that will help us solve critical challenges and inspire innovation.”


The operating system will “ingest, aggregate, fuse and disseminate mobility data” from sources across the city so that it may be used by the public and private sectors to achieve the vision of empowering residents to live their best lives through responsive, innovative and safe mobility solutions.


In its initial state, the operating system published 1,100 data feeds curated by the Smart Columbus team to help address six mobility-related challenges faced by residents.


Sample datasets include foodbank data that may be used to help hungry families access groceries; the locations of low bridges in Franklin county, which may be used to help prevent dangerous bridge strikes by oversized trucks; and data on geographic concentrations of older adults, which may be combined with public transit data to identify ways to better serve the mobility needs of Columbus seniors.


Through research conducted with residents and community partners, we’ve identified real mobility challenges felt by real people -- residents, freight operators, non-profits, city officials and more,” added Michael Stevens, chief innovation officer for the city of Columbus.


“We’ve also identified collections of data that, when applied in new ways, stand to transform today’s outcomes. We’re publishing this data through the operating system and calling on the public and private sectors to join us in harnessing this data to create real solutions.”


The operating system will serve as the technical “backbone” for projects within the USDOT grant portfolio, capturing and disseminating data that will be used to deliver, optimise and measure the performance of eight technology demonstrations funded by the grant.


Each dataset housed within the operating system is also open with the intent that public or private sector developers may leverage the data to address community challenges. The operating system itself is developed in open source code, meaning other cities may leverage the code to fast-track development of their own data management platforms.


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