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Smart City Challenge: 7 proposals for the future of transportation

Michelle Davidson | June 17, 2016
Finalist cities in the U.S. DOT’s Smart City Challenge make their final pitches for the $40 million prize, offer a glimpse into future urban travel

Portland, Oregon—Transportation app, Wi-Fi travel kiosks, electric shuttle buses

Portland is at the forefront of alternative modes of transportation (it’s hard to find a community more pro-bicycle than it), but it still has issues. Transportation safety for those bicyclists, as well as pedestrians and car drivers, is one challenge. It also wants to reduce its carbon emissions by 80 percent.

City organizers say the smart city initiatives proposed will address those. The core of the plan includes an app that would allow residents to compare transportation options—walking, driving, taking public transit or using a ride service—and pay for the option they choose within the app.

Other initiatives include:

  • Building traffic sensors and signals that can receive and transmit data, and installing technology in fleet vehicles to collect data on traffic conditions.
  • Installing Wi-Fi-enabled kiosks that provide internet access and travel information at transit stops.
  • Adding electric neighborhood shuttle buses to its transit service. The goal is that eventually these vehicles will drive autonomously.

San Francisco—Shared connected automated vehicles

San Francisco has been part of the international network of smart cities since 2011 and has been sharing its practices with its sister cities: Paris and Barcelona. It has used technology to make its building operations more efficient, reduce energy use, streamline its waste management system and expand its transportation system.

But city officials recognize that they can do more. The city’s new proposal is to expand and integrate mobility services across the city to incorporate shared connected automated vehicles. It would be a network of shared vehicles, accessible by an app. Officials say the network will eliminate traffic congestion, improve traffic safety, reduce emissions and noise, and more.

“Combined, shared mobility, public transit and CAV technology can reduce demand for street space and parking so that public right of way can be repurposed over time for walking, cycling, open space and to create more affordable housing,” the city’s proposal says.


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