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The Rise of Smaller Smart Cities

Some of the most well-known smart city projects include important major cities in Europe and the US, such as London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Los Angeles or San Francisco. However, there are several reasons to conclude that smaller cities can employ smart technologies easier and more successfully.

Smaller cities can have an easier time implementing new technologies because of their more manageable size. The shape and size of smaller cities makes them ideal test beds for smart programs, because they are large enough to have the resources but contained enough to be a perfect controlled environment. In addition, they may be more motivated to attract interested companies to be their test beds to bringing investment capital and encourage job growth.

One such city is Columbus, Ohio, with a population of around 800,000 inhabitants. Despite its small size, Columbus recognized as the Intelligent Community of the Year by the Intelligent Community Foundation. The Columbus 2020 program was launched to serve “as the economic development organization for the 11-county Columbus Region, working in partnership with state and local partners to generate opportunity and build capacity for economic growth.’

The goals set by the program are:

  • Adding 150,000 net new jobs
  • Generating $8 billion of capital investment
  • Raising personal per capita income by 30%
  • Earning recognition as a leader in economic development

Of course, Columbus has other advantages apart from its small size and willingness to become the test bed of smart technologies. Its region is home to a labor force of more than one million workers and 33% of them are graduates with bachelor’ s degrees. The region contains 59 colleges and universities. In particular, Ohio State University is a main location for innovating applied research for product design, technology commerce, and manufacturing. Its “Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence’ works directly with manufacturers in order to identify and execute growth strategies.

Public and private sector partnerships have already led to some significant smart city developments in the Columbus region, including: winning the U.S. Department of Transportation’ s $40 million Smart City Challenge, getting awarded $299 million from major companies to build an advanced wind tunnel at the Transportation Research Center, participating in ongoing smart mobility efforts via a partnership between an Intel subsidiary and Ohio State University, and providing the benefits of the specialized workforce of the Transportation Research Center to the region’ s robust automotive manufacturing industry, which produces 700,000 cars annually.

Perhaps Columbus can be an example for the potential of other smaller cities in the US and the world.

The original article can be found in Machine Design.