SPRING 2022: VOLTPOST BLOG POST

Daniel Perkes, Eriketi Mytilineou, Johannes Geiger, Kushagra, Helena Kilburn, and Briana Fowler-Puja

Voltpost is a NYC-based startup whose founding team includes two SUMA alumni. The company’s mission is to decarbonize mobility in cities, and it accomplishes this by transforming lampposts into smart electric vehicle charging stations managed by a mobile application. This solution accelerates EV adoption by providing cities scalable curbside charging for drivers.

During the Spring 2022 semester, our team created a proposal to deploy a Voltpost charging station on Columbia University’s property. The Voltpost team is in the process of developing their prototype system and is looking to secure initial pilot deployments this year. Our work complemented the Fall 2021 SUMANI team which prepared GIS analysis of electric and ICE vehicle ownership in the greater New York metropolitan area.

We were tasked to perform stakeholder mapping, research potential demo and pilot locations, and work with university staff to understand how best to deploy the Voltpost EV charging system on campus. At the beginning of the project, we identified three groups of stakeholders relevant to Voltpost’s work on the Columbia University pilot project:  New York City government;  Upper Manhattan community groups;  and Columbia University.  We understood that the Voltpost team had already established relationships with the Department of Transportation, Con Edison, and the offices of some local politicians. Because of this, most of our Stakeholder Mapping work was focused on the latter two groups.

One challenge during this project was agreeing on the nature and scope of the deliverables that the Voltpost team wanted from us at the conclusion of the engagement. At one point in the project, our understanding was that the best approach was to create one “Official Proposal” for Columbia University executives and a second document with a more detailed work description and research report for the Voltpost team’s internal use. However, as we got closer to the end of our project, we spoke with the Voltpost team and determined that the most impactful way to conclude the project was to prepare just one document where all elements of it were appropriate for a university executive audience.

That final version of the report was the one we produced for Voltpost at the end of our consulting project. It is a modular document, which can easily be taken apart and customized based on the scope of the discussion with a particular stakeholder. After extensive discussions with employees in various university departments and research on a variety of locations, our team’s final recommendation was that Voltpost should partner with Columbia University’s Department of Public Safety for the demo project, because Public Safety has the largest EV fleet on campus. Our final report included a company overview, stakeholder identification, location research, and a detailed technical proposal tailored to the Public Safety fleet managers. It also suggested a community engagement strategy that included specific suggestions of which community groups and business development organizations would be helpful partners for future pilot deployments.

Our team had a great time working on the Voltpost project this semester and enjoyed the experience of working with various stakeholders in the university. We got an inside look into the university’s plans for sustainability and transportation infrastructure in the years to come. We are excited about the future of Voltpost chargers in New York City and beyond, and we are proud to have played a part in the company’s technology development and deployment planning. We look forward to seeing everything that Voltpost will accomplish in the future!

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