- The City of Columbus, Ohio will host a three-day Smart City Hackathon starting May 18, which will provide open data for developers to try to solve transportation problems in the city.
- Organizations are making data available around topics including parking management, access to food supply for food insecure families, and bridge height intelligence. Participants can also propose their own problems to work on over the weekend.
- The city is inviting hardware and software developers, industrial and graphic designers and other citizens to participate for a $30 entry fee, which includes coaching from local tech firms and representatives of The Ohio State University.
Since winning the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge in 2016, Columbus has sought to build out a more connected and data-driven transportation system. The upcoming hackathon will expand that vision by leveraging the Smart Columbus Operating System (SCOS), an open data platform that will house public and private transportation data. The city last month awarded local tech firm Pillar Technology Group a $2.5 million contract to develop SCOS.
Other cities have used similar hackathons to encourage innovative ideas from residents and local businesses and create smart city infrastructure. Twenty-two cities participated in last year’s Smart City Hack, which culminated in an international competition in Barcelona, and others have created their own independent programs, like Columbus'. Among the ideas that have come out of previous hackathons are Air Garage, which allows homeowners and businesses to post open parking spaces, and Cerqana, a location and assistance system for people with disabilities.
Columbus officials hope the upcoming hackathon can target problems facing the 10% of households that don’t own a car, with data sets oriented around the accessibility of transit stops. Organizers say the end result would be system to "route users to appropriate transit options based on their mobility ability, using static and dynamic data sources."
The event is also meant to highlight the collaboration that needs to occur between public officials, startups and citizens to generate new solutions. Mackenzie King, from the Smart Columbus technical group, told Columbus Business First, "this isn't a technology project; this is a people project."