Check Out the Winning Pitch in the Smart Cities Challenge

How did Columbus, OH beat out other competitive cities like San Francisco, Denver, Portland, Pittsburg, and Kansas City to win $50 million in funding? By putting people over technology.

Brian Buntz

June 25, 2016

1 Min Read
Columbus was the winner of the inaugural Smart Cities challenge from the DOT.
Thinkstock / styxclick

The city’s proposal puts people first, according to United States Secretary of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Writing in a blog post, Foxx explained that the city’s plan showed a clear determination to “reach beyond the tech savvy” and “to [solve] problems for their most vulnerable residents.” For instance, the city wants to gauge “connectivity of their transportation infrastructure is by linking it to the infant mortality rate.” The city's infant mortality rate has remained stubbornly high—nearly four times higher than the national average.

The fact that the Columbus was transportation plan was so broad, weaving together healthcare considerations, philanthropy, education, and business impressed Foxx, who had previously asked for cities in the competition to define what a “smart city” was. The contest gave the semifinalists a chance to prove that their vision was both ambitious but also realistic. 

“If we can do it in Columbus, we can do it anywhere,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther explained at a Smart Cities Challenge event earlier.

The city's proposal video shows renderings of its smart buses to ferry people to work centers, schools, hospitals, and other destinations.


About the Author(s)

Brian Buntz

Brian is a veteran journalist with more than ten years’ experience covering an array of technologies including the Internet of Things, 3-D printing, and cybersecurity. Before coming to Penton and later Informa, he served as the editor-in-chief of UBM’s Qmed where he overhauled the brand’s news coverage and helped to grow the site’s traffic volume dramatically. He had previously held managing editor roles on the company’s medical device technology publications including European Medical Device Technology (EMDT) and Medical Device & Diagnostics Industry (MD+DI), and had served as editor-in-chief of Medical Product Manufacturing News (MPMN).

At UBM, Brian also worked closely with the company’s events group on speaker selection and direction and played an important role in cementing famed futurist Ray Kurzweil as a keynote speaker at the 2016 Medical Design & Manufacturing West event in Anaheim. An article of his was also prominently on, a website dedicated to Kurzweil’s ideas.

Multilingual, Brian has an M.A. degree in German from the University of Oklahoma.

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