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7 finalists announced for USDOT Smart City Challenge; Amazon Web Services new partner

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, joined by Barbara Bennett, President and COO of Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. and Rick Clemmer CEO of NXP Semiconductors, announced the seven finalists for the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Smart City Challenge. (Earlier post.) The USDOT has pledged up to $40 million (funding subject to future appropriations) to one city to help it define what it means to be a “Smart City “and become the country’s first city to fully integrate innovative technologies—self-driving cars, connected vehicles, and smart sensors—into their transportation network.

The finalists are: Austin, TX; Columbus, OH; Denver, CO; Kansas City, MO; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; and San Francisco, CA. Secretary Foxx was joined by representatives of the seven city finalists, including Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, Kansas City Mayor Sly James, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales for the announcement at the C3 Connected Mobility Showcase being held during the South by Southwest conference (SXSW).

After an overwhelming response—78 applications total—we chose to select seven finalists instead of five because of their outstanding potential to transform the future of urban transportation.

—Secretary Foxx

When the challenge was issued in December 2015, the Department’s launch partner, Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc., announced its intent to award up to $10 million to the winning city to support electric vehicle deployment and other carbon emission reduction strategies.

In this second phase of the competition, the seven finalists will receive a $100,000 grant to further develop their proposals. Whereas the first phase called for a high-level overview, the winning city will be selected based on their ability to “think big”, and provide a detailed roadmap on how they will integrate innovative technologies to prototype the future of transportation in their city. The Department will work with each city to connect them with existing partnerships and support their final proposal with technical assistance.

In addition to announcing the seven finalists, Secretary Foxx also announced a new Smart City Challenge partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), a secure cloud services platform, which will provide solution architecture and best practices guidance to the finalists to help them leverage AWS services for Smart City solutions, as well as award $1 Million of credits to the Challenge winner for AWS Cloud services and AWS Professional Services.

Furthermore, AWS will collaborate with US DOT on efforts to engage the startup community, and bring their ideas to the finalists. The credits, support, and collaboration will help the winning city design and build a Smart City on the AWS Cloud.

Other partners that have already joined the Smart City Challenge include:

  • Mobileye. Mobileye will equip the winning city’s public bus system with their Mobileye’s Shield+ on every bus which helps bus drivers avoid and mitigate imminent collisions and protect road users including bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists.

  • Autodesk. Autodesk will provide InfraWorks 360 and finalists will get access to (and training on) Infraworks 360, a modeling platform that uses 3-D visualizations and real-world data to plan major engineering projects.

  • NXP. NXP will provide the contest’s winning city with wireless communication modules that allow cars to securely exchange data, such as hazard warnings, over distances of more than a mile to prevent accidents and improve traffic flow.

The Department developed the Smart City Challenge as a response to the trends identified in the Beyond Traffic draft report. The report, issued last year, revealed that the US’ aging infrastructure is not equipped to deal with a significantly growing population in regions throughout the country. It also identified a need to increase mobility options in developing mega-regions—specifically mid-sized cities.

The winning city will be announced in June 2016.



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