Smart City Discusses the Transformation of Transportation and What's in Store for the Future

Jodie Bare - Central Ohio Tech Power Player Honoree

Jodie Bare

Deputy Program Manager - Technology

Smart City (Columbus)



Bryan Kaiser

Founding Partner/President



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The Deputy Program Manager - Technology for Smart City (Columbus), Jodie Bare, discusses the transformation of transportation and what's in store for the future. 


Hello, and welcome to the comSpark podcast, where you will get to meet today's technology thought leaders. To learn more, visit

BK: We are here today with Jodie Bare, who is the Deputy Program Manager of Technology at Smart Columbus. Smart Columbus is an organization based in downtown, and focuses on the transformation of transportation. My name is Bryan Kaiser. I'm the founder and president of Vernovis. Also part of the executive host committee of comSpark, and I will be your guest moderator today. So, let's get started. Jodie, thanks for coming in.


JB: Thank you for having me.


BK: You're welcome. You're welcome. So my first question for you – what kinds of things do you feel the local market needs to take it to the next level in becoming a larger tech hub?


JB: Well, I think that, uh, for Columbus specifically, we need to step up our tech talent. Um, we have a fabulous market, a wealth of resources in terms of skills, uh, but we're short on the skills. And uh, there's a lot of opportunity here with all the startups as well as well-established tech companies. Uh, but we're…I know that for me personally, it's been a struggle to get the right talent in place.


BK: So, why do you think that is?


JB: I think there are more opportunities than there are technical people in the city right now. Uh, so I, you know, my challenge to leaders is, how do we develop our workforce? Um, that's, that's also something that is top of mind for me is, as I think about the transformation of transportation, is, what is the skill going to look like of the future technologist? Transportation engineers aren't just your traditional transportation engineers, uh, in the future here. It's, there's IT and transportation coming together.


BK: So how do you feel – do you have any ideas or how do you think we can try to fill that gap? Because it's pretty big.


JB: It is pretty big. Um, I think from, from a development standpoint, it's getting into the education institutions. Um, so starting at a young age, it's not just at the college level, but even getting into the middle schools I would say, and start impressing upon kids the importance of technology and how it is the way of the world. And there are many different ways to apply skills in tech. It doesn't just have to be a traditional computer science, uh, person and, and continue to follow kids through their educational curriculum all the way through university, uh, and, and get more, I guess, more in depth into the curriculum at the university level and uh, help educators understand the skills that are needed in the workforce.


BK: That's really, that's really good. I feel like a lot of folks, when they think of technology jobs, think of programming or development or sitting behind a computer and writing code. But technology is so much more broad than that. So how do, how can we, how can we educate the general public that it is much broader than just programming and development?


JB: Hmm. Still reaching into the, um, to the tech schools like career centers and uh, participating in different events. I know for me, as a woman in tech, you know, reaching out to young girls and talking about that, that tech is more than just computers. It's, I talk a lot about data and the impact that data has in, in the world today. And how it does influence, um, technology, um, but it's the root of tech.


BK: Hm. Yeah, that's a good point. So, let's shift gears really quick. Professionally, what makes you the most happy?


JB: Uh, breathing life into a vision. I, I am a person of execution. I like to feel purposeful and getting things done and I, when I rally behind a vision, I internalize it and I am committed to make it happen. And uh, that, that makes me feel really happy. I feel accomplished. Um, I like operating without major constraints. That's important to me. So, I've never been one to do well operating in a box. I need fuzzy lines or maybe even no lines, uh, so that I can do what I need to do and do it well. Um, doing work that is meaningful and purposeful. Like the work that I do at Smart Columbus, it's a, it's tech focused, but it's having an impact on the community. And so I'm able to bring all my skills to the table and learn new skills at the same time while also helping the community in different ways.


BK: So, in your opinion, what is one of the most exciting disruptive technologies that's beginning to impact your work or personal life?


JB: The advancement of deep learning and artificial intelligence. That is by far, in my opinion, one of the most exciting things going on in tech today, especially right here in Columbus. Um, it's through this technology that we are creating intelligent transportation systems. So these are systems that will lead to less congestion and, uh, dramatically reduced traffic related deaths. So, I'm applying that to like, the connected vehicle environment as an example. Uh, the connected vehicle environment relies heavily on data inputs and these data inputs can be used to change driver behavior in a proactive way. So, it's putting onboard units into cars and providing a mechanism for the driver to see what is happening, several cars ahead of him or her so that they can adjust their own driving behavior and potentially avoid an incident. Uh, it, it, through data, we're able to, uh, understand weather conditions, road conditions, and present a warning messages through the onboard unit to a connected vehicle that there's danger up ahead and adjust your behavior.

Uh, so, um, and then shifting into a self-driving vehicles. Uh, that the, the platform of self-driving vehicles is data, deep data, deep learning and artificial intelligence. So, it's a data-rich pipeline that serves as the brain and the nerve center for these autonomous cars to function. Uh, and these are all very disruptive to our world today, um, in, in, the positive way. Uh, so I, you know, I also think about, when I think about data and artificial intelligence, I think about multimodal options that we have as travelers journey through the city. Um, we, it's because of data that we're able to be presented different options for traveling throughout. We can, through our preferences, we can choose to take the fastest way or the cheapest way or the most ecofriendly way, and it's all data that informs uh, an application to a present these options. So, I think for all these different solutions, there's the foundation is, is data – it's deep learning and artificial intelligence and it's leading to less road congestion, reduced traffic deaths, and a more sustainable air quality.


BK: So, these are the things that, when we were kids, we dreamt about, we saw in the movies with Back to the Future and we saw on TV shows like the Jetsons and it's like, it's here, it's here now. So, where do you see this going?


JB: I see this, um, well, we are about to deploy the first autonomous shuttle actually in December, uh, so that will be deployed in downtown Columbus, around the Scioto Mile. So to your point, it is actually happening. And the first step I think is getting, getting humans to change their behavior and um, look, and not be afraid of this technology. And so, the first deployment is about getting people comfortable with the driverless shuttle – get into it, experience it, see that it's not so scary and if something should happen, it quickly shifts to a manual mode. So there's, there's an ambassador right there, ready to take over if the need should be there.

Um, but in a future state, what I see is, uh, transportation being…operating as, it's operating as a service. So we no longer own vehicles. We subscribe to a vehicle service and we have, um, it's ready there on demand. You hail a shared service and it comes to pick you up along with people along the journey that you're taking as well. And, uh, with, through that you have less congestion and it's better for the environment.


BK: We're just scratching the surface on all this. I'm excited to see where it goes. Jodie, thanks for your time. This is Bryan Kaiser with Vernovis, Jodie Bare with Smart Columbus. To learn more about us, please visit, and we'll see you next time.


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