smart city challenge

City mayors make final pitches in Smart City Challenge

The Department of Transportation is in the final stages of its Smart City Challenge and will select a winner within the next two weeks from among seven finalists.

The mayors of those cities all made their final pitches to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, outlining what they plan to do with more than $40 million in funding and technology from the DOT and challenge sponsors,  which include Amazon, AT&T, Autodesk, Mobileye and NXP.

The city of Austin would use the prize money and technology to build transportation centers for residents to get taxis or carpool rides, find bicycles and request automated car pickups. A smartphone app would let residents see all transportation options and pay for trips. In addition, the city would lower Interstate 35 to allow surface streets to pass over it and create a large-scale fleet of electric buses to bring residents from downtown to the airport.

A driverless car program, meanwhile, would be developed to help Columbus residents in the Linden and Easton areas to travel to work faster. The city also hopes to develop a smartphone application for truckers to see real-time traffic data while driving through the city and a separate app for citizens and visitors containing event information coordinated with real-time traffic, parking and transit options. Data sharing and advanced analytics would be used with connected traffic lights and infrastructure technology to enhance the recently built traffic management center.

San Francisco already sports bike- and car-share programs as well as a smartphone parking application. With Smart City funding, it would expand on these programs to help reduce vehicle related fatalities and emissions. In addition, the city plans to host 12 companies for autonomous vehicle testing, connected vehicle and smart traffic management systems using vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle–to-infrastructure technology.

Denver would create a public, transparent intelligent data ecosystem through its car-and bike-share programs. Electrical vehicle hubs will be powered with clean renewable energy. A smartphone app would allow citizens to request and pay for transportation services, and car share, police and public transportation data would be used to improve traffic flow across the city.

Looking beyond traffic and congestion, Kansas City would connect gunshot detection technologies to police cars, smart lighting and video sensors to improve security. In addition to testing autonomous vehicles,. Kansas City also hopes to develop a driverless shuttle from the airport synced with real-time flight schedules, use sensor technology to adjust bus schedules based on how many people are waiting at a stop, and to develop intelligent traffic signal systems to improve traffic flow using real-time city data.

In Pittsburgh, the SmartPGH proposal would install smart traffic signals, street lights, roads for autonomous and electric vehicles and charging stations across the city. Information from personal, public and freight-hauling vehicles, traffic lights and social media would be collected from select streets to monitor traffic control and will be released to the public through a smartphone application. Streets would also be outfitted for electric cars and autonomous vehicles.

And the Ubiquitous Mobility for Portland proposal would allow residents to see and compare the speed, cost, safety and environmental impact of all transportation options in a smartphone app as well as pay for the trip without leaving the application. Portland also aims to develop vehicle sensor technology, autonomous car and truck testing and increase bike lanes.

The winner of the challenge will be selected later this month. All seven finalists have made efforts to raise public and private funding so they can continue to develop their next-gen transportation systems.  

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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