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When we first learned that Columbus was in the running for the USDOT Smart City Challenge, we were immediately pumped to support the cause by hosting a Smart City-themed Startup Weekend. There was just one problem…none of us really knew what “Smart City” even meant.

Thankfully, after some research and lots of heart-to-hearts with industry experts, we’ve figured it out. And it’s even more exciting than we had anticipated.

For those of you who are still foggy on exactly what a “Smart City” looks like, here’s a quick-and-dirty list to show what it is—and what it isn’t.

1. It is not limited to data.
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While the name might be a little misleading in this regard, “Smart City” is about just that…making the city run smarter. Sometimes that means using data to make better decisions, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Some other Smart City concepts can touch on urban agriculture, waste management, traffic, water, and general sustainability.

2. It is meant for a larger city.

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That’s not to say that Smart City technology can’t make waves in Anytown, USA, but we’re looking at ways to impact our biggest cities and make them even bigger and better. For example, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Singapore are considered current Smart Cities.

3. Its goal is not to create an electronic city.

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(That’s what I first thought it meant. Anyone else?) Instead, the goal of a Smart City is to improve quality of life for its citizens and visitors.

4. It is meant for everyone.

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The theme sounds a little daunting, right? WRONG. Everyone (yes, you) has an idea for how to make Columbus better. And even if you don’t want to work on that idea, you still have something valuable to contribute.

5. It is a BFD.

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Seriously, have you read Columbus’ proposal for the Smart City Challenge? We were one of seven cities in the whole country to be considered for this challenge, so we need all hands on deck to win. (Hint: if you’re at a loss for ideas, you might find some good starting-point ideas in that proposal)

6. It is not just about technology.

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Building a Smart City isn’t just about using technology to make us more connected. In Columbus, it will also help us to address some of the most pressing issues in our community: poverty, education, and childcare, just to name a few.

If you’re still itching for more details on what “Smart City” really means, check out this link for a great summary. But don’t let that stop you from reaching out to us, too!

Lauren D’souza