What We Learned from the Smart City Challenge to Build Cities for the Future, by Anthony Foxx

A little over one year ago, we launched our Smart City Challenge, asking mid-sized cities across America to share their ideas for the creation of an integrated, first-of-its-kind smart transportation system using data, applications, and technology to help people and goods move faster, cheaper, and more efficiently. Over 75 cities competed for the resources to connect and deploy new technologies, and now those applications and a wealth of data is available to the public in a new comprehensive report, Smart City Challenge: Lessons for Building Cities of the Future. New Smart City web tools, including an interactive map that links to information in the cities’ applications, can be used to identify trends and to share knowledge.

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. Cities from Albuquerque to Anchorage and Providence to Portland took the Challenge as an opportunity to create blueprints of their cities’ transportation futures. 

Even more was learned through the comprehensive applications prepared by the seven finalists: Austin, Columbus, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland, and San Francisco. All together, the seven finalists proposed to add more than 1,000 advanced traffic signals and 13,000 connected vehicles using dedicated short range communications (DSRC) technology. Six of the seven finalists proposed creating ‘mobility marketplaces’ to allow residents to find and pay for a variety of transportation options – bikeshare, carshare, transit, rideshare – all in one place. The winning city, Columbus, OH, proposed a comprehensive, integrated plan addressing challenges in residential, commercial, freight, and downtown districts using a number of new technologies, including connected infrastructure, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, an integrated data platform, autonomous vehicles, and more.

In October 2016, we announced an additional $65 million in grants to support community-driven advanced technology transportation projects — including support for four of the Smart City Challenge finalists to implement ideas developed as part of their applications. Leveraging funding from local and private partners, these cities will bring cutting-edge technology to their communities, demonstrating in real-world settings the tools that will transform our transportation system in the next 30 years.
We know that cities across the county are looking for ways to innovate and continue to find new ways to build opportunity in their communities. I hope that this new compilation of lessons learned in the Smart City Challenge: Lessons for Building Cities of the Future report gives leaders new insight into how to innovate in the new year.
Check out the applications of each of the finalists and more lessons learned here: https://www.transportation.gov/smartcity/7-finalists-cities