Last March, the U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was joined by Barbara Bennett, President and COO of Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. and Rick Clemmer CEO for NXP Semiconductors in his announcement of the seven finalists for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Smart City Challenge. The DOT put forward the Smart City Challenge as an incentive for cities to create a way to define what it means to be a “Smart City” and become the country’s first city to integrate innovative technologies like self-driving cars, connected vehicles, and smart sensors, fully into their transportation network. Cities interested in being the country’s first “Smart City” could apply with their plans and winners will receive up to $40 million to carry them out.
“The level of excitement and energy the Smart City Challenge has created around the country far exceeded our expectations,” Secretary Foxx stated. “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.
Many cities went unchosen, but became inspired by their plans. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for example, is now working towards creating new districts in that are equipped with incentives that will hopefully draw autonomous driving developers and tech companies to set up shop in the city.
The Smart City Challenge was first introduced in December of 2015, when the Department’s launch partner, Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Incorporated, announced that it would award up to $10 million to the winning city in an effort to support electric vehicle deployment and other carbon emission reduction strategies.
“The creativity and determination of applicants to envision a greener future represents the best of American ingenuity. It is this kind of belief in the power of new ideas that drives Paul Allen’s commitment to solving some of the world’s greatest challenges,” Barbara Bennett, President and COO of Vulcan Inc. stated. “As the Smart City Challenge’s philanthropic partner, we hope to catalyze a transportation transformation across the country that will dramatically drive down emissions from this leading source of carbon pollution.”
Secretary Foxx’s announcement of the finalists didn’t end there; he also informed listeners that Amazon Web Services had joined the partnership and will provide solution architecture and best practices guidance to the finalists to help them leverage AWS services for their Smart City solutions. The company also promises to award $1 million of credits to the winner of the challenge for AWS Cloud services and AWS Professional Services. AWS also promises to collaborate with the US DOT on efforts to engage startup communities and bring their ideas to finalists.
Entering the second phase of the competition, the seven finalists received $100,000 grants to put towards further developing their proposals. The winner will be chosen based on their ability to create a detailed road map towards bold changes to our current working prototype for city transportation. The DOT has promised to work with each city in terms of connecting them to existing partnerships and technical assistance.
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