What would Columbus think? – September 25, 2019
Christopher Columbus would have been proud
Today's itinerary: First we land in Columbus, OH for a look around; we see what Microsoft is up to in rural Iowa; self-driving cars are coming to work zones; trivia and more!
September 25, 2019
WHEELS DOWN: COLUMBUS
Smart, fun, affordable, big and growing fast!
If you haven’t visited Columbus lately (or ever), you’re in for a treat. The city is exploding with smart city initiatives, new businesses, and just plain cool stuff to check out.
This forward momentum shouldn’t be surprising—Columbus has been on the move from the get-go. Shortly after the town was laid out, it became the state capital and then rapidly began spawning schools, churches, newspapers, and saloons (more than 600 taverns in the 1880s, but who’s counting).
In the last decade, the population has been growing by leaps and bounds. Since 2000, it has increased by about 23%, and the Census Bureau says it’s now bigger than the city of San Francisco. One reason is its strong job market, which is drawing talent to work for major employers like Ohio State University, Nationwide Insurance, and L Brands. And with that kind of population explosion, city leaders, residents, and community supporters have been looking down the road to implement technology and build infrastructure that will support the vigorous expansion.
The city has so much going on these days, it’s hard to know where to start. But let’s kick things off with a look at its smart city projects.
Smarter than the average burg
It’s been using the money to take a holistic approach to “reinventing mobility.” Here are some highlights:
Columbus’ startup poster child is auto insurer Root Insurance, a unicorn with the highest valuation in Ohio ($3.65B), but there are plenty of other success stories and founders poised to make their mark.
And when it’s time to have fun…
Madison startup lands big investment
More news from Wisconsin’s burgeoning higher-ed tech prowess: A Madison startup born last month in the halls of the University of Wisconsin has banked an investment from Informatica, a Silicon Valley software development company. GreenBay Technologies, the brainchild of University of Wisconsin-Madison professor AnHai Doan and two of his grad students, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance business decision-making.
Minneapolis' Zoomworks joins the MarTech fray
MarTech (yet another squished-up name, because who has time for all those pesky syllables) refers to the field of marketing technology. The basic idea is to use technology to achieve marketing objectives, and it encompasses things like advertising and promotion; content, social, and experience; and commerce and sales.
Microsoft expanding broadband in Iowa
Surfing the web in rural Iowa is about to get a serious signal boost. Microsoft has announced plans to team up with Nextlink, a Texas-based internet service provider, to provide broadband internet access to millions of underserved rural Americans as part of its ambitious Airband Initiative.
Autonomous cars + work zones = ?
Sometimes it’s nice to learn that robots can suck at something as much as humans do. So you might feel a bit of schadenfreude to hear that self-driving cars have a terrible time driving through construction zones. And why not? Most work zones are insane, with their narrow lanes, orange cones, erratic pavement, and hot-under-the-collar human drivers.
But the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation wants to teach self-driving cars to navigate those tricky work zones, and it just landed an $8.4 million federal grant to study the problem.
The loot will be used to develop mapping systems and communications systems, along with coatings for road surfaces and barrels to help the vehicles understand road conditions. The feds stepped in because private companies developing self-driving technologies tend to avoid testing their vehicles in construction areas precisely because those conditions are so challenging. The program will involve computer simulations, plus controlled tests at a test track, eventually rolling out to active construction sites. This could be the project that finally gets the robots to snap and grow a couple of middle fingers.
Name that Flyover City!
Warning: Today's trivia might make your stomach growl. Can you name the Flyover Cities where these beloved dishes were created?
Are you now starving (for answers)? Get 'em while they're hot!
TALK TO US!
Share stories, suggestions or comments
Do you have an interesting story about innovation in a local business, university, or your city that you'd like to amplify to our readers and followers? Do you know a cool place where locals hang out that you would share with visitors? Or, do you have an unusual or quirky story to share about your town? Then share your stories, pictures, press releases, or other media with us and we'll take it from there!
Also, please feel free to share other suggestions or comments on stories.
Simply click the button below to get started.