Environmental Professional Network’s public Breakfast Club

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus’s technology-intense Smart Columbus project, which last year beat out ideas from 77 other cities to win the U.S. Department of Transportation’s $40 million Smart City Challenge, is the focus of an April 18 event at The Ohio State University.

Aparna Dial, who’s a staff member with the project and the deputy director of Columbus’s Department of Public Service, will present “Columbus: One Smart and Sustainable City — Using Innovative Technology to Improve People’s Access to Opportunity” as part of the Environmental Professional Network’s (EPN) public Breakfast Club series.

The event is from 7:15 to 9:45 a.m. in Ohio State’s Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, in Columbus.

EPN is a statewide professional group organized by the university’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), part of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Test ground for intelligent transportation

The Smart Columbus project aims to make Ohio’s capital city “the nation’s proving ground for intelligent transportation systems,” a June 2016 story in the Columbus Dispatch said.

The project, according to its website, will benefit not just transportation efficiency and energy savings but issues such as job access, infant health and food security. It has secured about $417 million in resources to date, a figure that includes the Smart City prize, a $10 million grant from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc. to reduce Columbus’s greenhouse gas emissions, and monetary and in-kind commitments.

Some of those commitments are from Ohio State, which is the project’s lead research institution.

Moving ‘quickly, cheaply, efficiently’

The Smart City Challenge, according to its website, asked “midsized cities across America to develop ideas for an integrated, first-of-its-kind smart transportation system” — a system that would use “data, applications and technology to help people and goods move more quickly, cheaply and efficiently.”

The Transportation Department launched the challenge in 2015. It announced the seven finalists — which included Denver, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon — at the annual South by Southwest conference in March 2016.

14 Ohio State student projects

Also during the April 18 EPN event, 14 teams of Ohio State students will give poster presentations on their sustainability-related senior capstone projects, some of which involved the Smart Columbus effort.

Registration for the event, which includes breakfast, is $10 or $15 depending on payment method and is free for Ohio State students. Details and a link to online registration are at go.osu.edu/BuRS. For more information, contact EPN coordinator David Hanselmann, who’s a lecturer with SENR, at hanselmann.3@osu.edu or 614-247-1908.

Sponsoring the event is the Energy Management and Sustainability program in Ohio State’s Office of Student Life.

REI VP on April 12

Also ahead for EPN is a signature event on April 12. Vik Sahney, vice president for sustainability for Seattle-based outdoor retailer REI, will present “From Summits to Sustainability: Reaching for High Places, Personally and Professionally” at 7 p.m. in Ohio State’s Ohio Union in Columbus. Admission is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required at go.osu.edu/Br3x.



Kurt Knebusch


David Hanselmann