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USDOT launches Smart City Challenge; up to $40M award from DOT, $10M from Vulcan

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx launched a Smart City Challenge to create a fully integrated, first-of-its-kind city that uses data, technology and creativity to shape how people and goods move in the future.

The USDOT will make an award of up to $40 million to one mid-sized city that can demonstrate how advanced data and intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies and applications can be used to reduce congestion, keep travelers safe, protect the environment, respond to climate change, connect underserved communities, and support economic vitality. Additionally, Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc., announced its intent to award up to $10 million to the USDOT winner of the Smart City Challenge. The winning city will need to work with Vulcan to secure this funding.

The Smart City Challenge builds on the USDOT's Beyond Traffic draft report issued in February of 2015. Beyond Traffic reveals that the US’ aging infrastructure is not equipped to deal with significantly growing population in new regions throughout the country and the need for increased mobility options in developing megaregions.

The new public-private collaboration represents the USDOT and Vulcan Inc.’s joint belief that creativity and innovation will be absolutely essential to meeting the significant transportation challenges of the future. Lessons learned from this competition will be used in other cities to improve networks nationwide and demonstrate a practical path to replacing carbon-based fuel consumption. The USDOT welcomes the participation of other entities who share the vision and goals in the Notice of Funding Opportunity.

Smart City vision elements. Source: USDOT. Click to enlarge.

This is an opportunity for the winning city to define what it means to be a Smart City when it comes to transportation. We encourage cities to develop their own unique vision, partnerships and blueprints to demonstrate to the world what a fully integrated, forward-looking transportation network looks like. America can remain the global leader in maintaining the safest, most efficient system in the world: I am looking for mayors who share that belief to join us in pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

—US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "

The USDOT kicked off its Smart City Challenge by inviting cities to submit a high-level description of their vision of a Smart City by 4 February 2016, consistent with the Notice of Funding Opportunity. The USDOT will then announce five finalists in March 2016, who will then compete for up to $40 million to be awarded to one city in June 2016. The Smart City Challenge will allow the selected city to demonstrate how advanced data, technologies, and applications can be used to reduce congestion, keep travelers safe, protect the environment, respond to climate change, and support economic vitality.

The following are attributes of the ideal Smart City Challenge candidate, according to USDOT:

  • Mid-sized city with a population between approximately 200,000 and 850,000 people within city limits as of the 2010 Census;

  • A population density typical of a mid-sized city using 2010 Census data;

  • Represents a significant portion (more than 15%) of the overall population of its urban area using 2010 Census data;

  • An established public transportation system;

  • An environment that is conducive to demonstrating proposed strategies; and

  • Leadership and capacity to carry out the demonstration throughout the period of performance.

Transformative innovation takes ambitious support from both the government and the private sector. That’s why we’re partnering with the DOT to inspire innovative, scalable, proof-of-concept solutions to address some of our planet’s most urgent challenges. We hope that together we can spur change by demonstrating what is possible through replicable models.

—Vulcan President and Chief Operating Officer Barbara Bennett

Applicants are invited to submit ideas—designed to address or enhance community needs—across a range of innovation and data-driven platforms. Critical system improvements that increase safety, reduce carbon emissions, and enhance mobility are especially encouraged for review. Specifically, these innovations will connect people, vehicles, public transportation, and infrastructure through ITS, sharing economy, and other technologies that improve the way Americans move, whether it be to drop off kids at school, pick up their groceries, get to work, and receive critical services.

Secretary Foxx is hosting a national webcast today, 8 December, at 3pm Eastern Time and USDOT will webstream a Smart City Forum on 15 December to discuss this funding opportunity, the application requirements, and the award selection process, and to answer relevant questions.


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