Home US DOT Smart City Challenge drives closer to finish line

US DOT Smart City Challenge drives closer to finish line

Seven potential smart cities enter, but there can be only one. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) picks its winner from among the seven finalists for its Smart City Challenge.

The final seven cities include Austin, Texas, Columbus, Ohio, Denver, Colorado, Kansas City, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, California. They were whittled down from 78 cities that entered the contest late last year.

See also: Pittsburgh steels itself for potential $100m smart city infusion

Cities provided a final proposal on May 24 to DOT secretary Anthony Foxx. The winner will be decided on June 7. The prize for winning is $40 million from the federal government, alongside $10 million from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen investment company, Vulcan Inc.

All seven cities have provided a clear view of their smart city, most looking towards an integrated public and private transport system. Denver and San Francisco have proposed a singular app that combines trains, bikes, and buses with Uber, Lyft, and other private transport.

DOT challenge focuses on intermodal transport

Autonomous cars, smart traffic analytics, and electric vehicles are high on the agenda as well for most proposals. We could see the winner branch out into other smart city services outside of transportation, like healthcare, energy, and jobs, if all goes as planned. Some have already shown initiative at building smart services or partnering with companies, like Kansas City being the launch city of Google Fiber.

Apart from the potential $50 million prize, the finalist cities are starting to see a lot of interest from private companies. San Francisco is seeing the most, as we would expect given the city’s position as a leader of the tech world. If San Francisco wins, it could receive $150 million in private funding to make its smart city plans even greater.

The smart city challenge comes one month before the DOT will unveil new regulations on autonomous cars. Some suspect the department will finally legalize autonomous cars on all roads, at least for testing.

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