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Smart Columbus Center Opens Saturday With Downtown Block Party

Columbus will hold a "Smart Mobility Block Party" and the grand opening of the Smart Columbus Experience Center for the general public on Saturday.

The center, located at 170 South Civic Center Drive in downtown Columbus, will host a block party where visitors can not only learn about the types of transportation Columbus has to offer, but also test drive electric vehicles.

Mark Patton, vice president of the Smart Cities Columbus Partnership, says that previously Smart Columbus held individual events to educate residents about Smart Cities. But now, the opening of the Experience Center changes how the project interacts with the public.

"What we were looking to do with this space is allow the public more general access to it, because we don't have to personally lead the discussion," Patton says. 

Back in 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation challenged mid-sized cities to compete for a $40 million grant to advance smart city technologies, along with $10 million from the Paul G. Allen Family Philanthropies. Columbus competed against 77 cities across the country, and won the challenge.

"It's just really exciting for Columbus to be on the leading edge of this," Patton says.

The Experience Center's "Smart Mobility Block Party" will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the grand opening of the center happening at 11 a.m.