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Smart City Challenge: Lessons Learned

The response to the challenge was unprecedented - we received 78 applications. Cities from Albuquerque to Anchorage and Providence to Portland took the Challenge as an opportunity to create blueprints of their cities’ transportation futures. By Department of Transportation




The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), under the leadership of Secretary Anthony Foxx, has leveraged nearly $350 million in public and private funds for smart city and advanced transportation technologies.

Building on Beyond Traffic 2045, the Smart City Challenge provided a spark for cities looking to revolutionize their transportation systems to help improve people’s lives.

Through the Smart City Challenge, the Department committed up to $40 million to one winning city.

In response, cities leveraged an additional $500 million in private and public funding to help make their Smart City visions real.

And, in October 2016, Secretary Foxx announced an additional $65 million in grants to support community-driven advanced technology transportation projects in cities across America, including 4 of the finalists in the Smart City Challenge.

By challenging American cities to use emerging transportation technologies to address their most pressing problems, the Smart City Challenge aimed to spread innovation through a mixture of competition, collaboration, and experimentation.

But the Smart City Challenge was about more than just technology.

We called on mayors to define their most pressing transportation problems and envision bold new solutions that could change the face of transportation in our cities by meeting the needs of residents of all ages and abilities; and bridging the digital divide so that everyone, not just the tech-savvy, can be connected to everything their city has to offer.

What We Learned From Across America
The response to the challenge was unprecedented - we received 78 applications. Cities from Albuquerque to Anchorage and Providence to Portland took the Challenge as an opportunity to create blueprints of their cities’ transportation futures.

The applications proposed a wide range of innovative approaches to tackling urban mobility challenges.

Here are just a few of the ideas from the 78 Smart City visions:

Seattle - shared data would provide dynamic routing for truck traffic, promote off-peak and overnight deliveries, and enable car share operators to deliver packages

  • Detroit - partnerships with industry leaders in the automotive and technology fields and academic institutions would help provide access to electric car shares, automated shuttles, and on-demand delivery trucks through integrated mobility apps
  • Boston - “radically programmable” city streets with dynamic markings that can change from loading zones, to thoroughfares, to spaces for street hockey, depending on the time of day and season
  • Las Vegas - new connected autonomous shuttles would transport workers to Las Vegas Boulevard, and new solar powered electric vehicle charging stations would help reduce emissions
  • New Orleans - dynamicallyrouted on-demand minibuses would provide affordable first mile/last mile transportation options to underserved communities
  • Atlanta - a network of multimodal transportation centers serving as hubs for mobility, economic development, and community activity

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