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First Look: Smart Columbus Experience Center

Brent Warren Brent Warren First Look: Smart Columbus Experience CenterPhoto by Brent Warren.
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The new Smart Columbus Experience Center will officially open to the public this Saturday. The space, which is located on the first floor of the former Columbia Gas building at 170 Civic Center Drive, is meant to help explain the multifaceted initiative to visitors while also offering a vision of how getting around in Columbus could change in the future.

“The space is really designed to wander around and touch things and learn,” said Mark Patton, the Smart Columbus Vice President at the Columbus Partnership. “The whole experience center is about, ‘how do you take technology and help improve people’s lives and experiences?'”

Patton and his colleagues at the partnership will be moving their offices into the building, along with staff from the City of Columbus and the tech company Pillar, which recently was chosen to build the new Smart Columbus Operating System.

The office portion of the space has room for about 40 workers and is complemented by multiple conference and meetings rooms. Those areas can be cordoned off if needed from the visitor area, which will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends (and longer for festivals).

A rotating selection of hybrid and electric cars are on display, and visitors will be able to sign up for scheduled test drives starting in July.

Interactive screens and exhibits are designed to “help people envision what their daily life could be like thanks to smart mobility,” according to Jennifer Fening, Senior Communications Manager at the partnership.

One display – from local company JadeTrack – shows the energy usage of the building in real-time, while another will show the movement of vehicles along the Smart Mobility Corridor being built along Route 33 near Dublin.

A grand opening for the center and a Smart Mobility Block Party is scheduled for Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fening said that the event is meant to demonstrate to residents “how they can be a part of the Smart Columbus initiative by driving electric or moving differently.”

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