A Bus Navigation App for Individuals with Cognitive Disabilities Was Deployed and Operated for Nearly $500K.

The Smart Columbus Demonstration Program Evaluated the Total Cost in Designing and Implementing the Mobility Assistance for People with Cognitive Disabilities Project in Columbus, Ohio.

Made Public Date

Primarily funded by the USDOT’s Smart City Challenge, the Smart Columbus Program was a collection of eight transportation, mobility and data studies aimed at improving access to jobs, enhancing tourism, stimulating the economy, connecting residents to safe and reliable transportation, and supporting efficient and sustainable movement of people and goods throughout Columbus. As part of the Smart Columbus Program, the Mobility Assistance for People with Cognitive Disabilities (MAPCD) project aimed to create an app which could assist individuals with cognitive disabilities in using traditional fixed route transit services to enable more independent travel options. The app would provide specially designed turn-by-turn instruction communicated through audio and visual means. The app additionally allowed caregivers to track their location and directly communicate if necessary. The project was a collaborative effort beginning at Ohio State University and growing to include the Central Ohio Transit Authority with outside support provided as well. 

The total costs of the MAPCD deployment were $494,013 (in 2021 USD), including the costs incurred to multiple vendors associated in both the deployment and operations phase:

  • Deployment costs, including items such as app design and program recruitment, were tracked from the project's beginning in January 2017 until the project's launch in April 2019 and summed to $260,886.14. 
  • Operations costs, including items such as call monitoring, were tracked from April 2019 through the end of the demonstration period in May 2020 and summed to $233,126.83. These costs include both labor, such as app design and systems engineering, as well as the cellular service access required. Total costs summed to $494,012.97.

Table 1 summarizes a breakdown of the deployment and operations cost for MAPCD, broken down by services bought.


Table 1. Breakdown of Deployment and Operations Cost. Source: City of Columbus

Vendor Actuals Deployment   Operations Total
App developer $7,992.00  $21,978.00  $29,970.00 
Cellular service $1,206.48  $10,218.75  $11,425.23 
Training, participant recruitment, demonstration, and evaluation $66,861.21  $115,262.52  $182,123.73 
Systems engineering  $90,828.20  $29,939.25  $120,767.45 
Project management $19,319.27  $31,372.51  $50,691.78 
City labor  $74,678.98  $24,355.80  $99,034.78
Total  $260,886.14  $233,126.83  $494,012.97 
System Cost

Deployment and Operations of Bus Navigation App: $494,013 (in 2021 USD)

System Cost Subsystem