(TNS) — The city of Columbus, Ohio is looking for 1,300 people willing to rig out their cars and trucks with "connected" technology that allows vehicles to communicate with each other and traffic signals under a program approved Monday by the City Council.
If you're selected to participate in the test of the new technology, you'll receive a series of five gift cards totaling $300 to encourage you not to drop out of the study.
Also at Monday's meeting, the council put teeth in its new ticket tax by enacting a compounding daily fine on secondary market vendors who fail to pay the city its 5% on resales of tickets to sporting events and shows. More on that below.
During the "Connected Vehicle Environment" research program, on-board devices will be installed on public and private vehicles so they receive in-vehicle alerts, including blind-spot detection and rear-end collision warnings. The on-board units also allow vehicles to communicate with traffic signals and other roadway infrastructure to provide alerts, including red-light violation warnings.
The alerts will warn drivers of potential hazards or safety concerns so they can slow down or take other precautionary measures, according to the $429,000 ordinance approved Monday that includes $390,000 for the gift cards.
In 2016, Columbus bested six other finalists in the U.S. Department of Transportation's Smart City competition to receive $50 million in grants from the federal government and Vulcan Inc. to develop the city into the nation's proving ground for intelligent transportation systems.
The pilot research program seeks to test how vehicles can communicate with 77 new wired traffic signals along stretches of Cleveland Avenue, High Street and Morse Road — areas that have some of the highest collision rates in the city.
Now about that ticket tax. The council approved a plan to try to boost the compliance rate with the new ticket tax among "secondary market" operators" such as StubHub and Ticketmaster that resell tickets online. The Dispatch reported last week that after four full months of collections, the two taxes was on track to collect only 25% of the projected $9 million annual estimate.
The new penalty for failing to timely file and pay the tax to the city would be an initial 10% fine, which would grow by 1% a day compounded every day that the penalty isn't paid.
In other action, the council also dropped a requirement limiting city area commissions, which review construction projects and zoning changes, to 17 members, as had been proposed. However, the ordinance did standardize the terms of commissioners citywide at three years, rather than between two and four years.
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