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Pittsburgh rises to tomorrow’s transport challenges

Citizens were integral to this challenge, defining the need for such solutions

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Proposals focus on key issues that Pittsburgh residents shared during the project
Proposals focus on key issues that Pittsburgh residents shared during the project

The City of Pittsburgh has announced the winning pilot proposals for the Ford City of Tomorrow Challenge, which aims to help prepare cities for the future. It is based on a crowdsourcing platform which is designed to bring groups of people together to design and pilot new solutions to help improve mobility in cities.

 

Two of the winners, Iomob and Safe Shift, will each be rewarded with $50,000 in prize money to test the implementation of their proposal in the real world. The third winner, Intersection, has requested no prize money from the City of Tomorrow Challenge, as its proposed LinkPGH program is supported through its own advertising revenue.

 

Mobility-as-a-service

 

Iomob, a user-friendly, open and inclusive form of mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) aimed at addressing inefficiencies in a multi-modal but “fragmented mobility landscape.” It allows end-users to discover, combine, book, and pay for the mobility services that best cover their needs at a given point of time. Iomob will be implemented as an open-source, decentralised platform that uses blockchain to allow all mobility providers to easily join the platform. By connecting all the mobility operators in an area, Iomob aims to enable users to find better combinations of services for any given trip.

 

Safe Shift, meanwhile, is a team that came together as part of the Mobiliti Conference in Pittsburgh in early October. The team consists of representatives from local transportation and advocacy groups, students, and an urban mobility data and analytics company called Moovit. Safe Shift is focused on getting night shift workers to and from work safely and efficiently.

 

By talking to local employers, the Safe Shift team identified the needs of shift workers who travel while tired and in the dark, and they plan to aid these shift workers by providing safe and reliable transit during off peak and unpredictable hours.

 

Finally, Intersection has been chosen as the third winner. Intersection is a company that aims to address the connectivity gap many Pittsburgh residents face, whether it’s connectivity to the internet, local transit information, or city services. To address these needs, Intersection proposes to deploy digital kiosks, dubbed LinkPGH, which provide free high-speed public wi-fi, phone calls to anywhere in the US, device charging, wayfinding, community messaging, and other amenities around the city.

“Working closely and collaborating with the people who will use solutions like these are one way in which we hope we can start to make a positive impact on people’s mobility”

“The people of Pittsburgh were integral to this Challenge,” said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. “They defined the need. Testing this in the real world, they will also help us evaluate this as a solution. We appreciate the partnership with Ford in not only thinking deeply about the challenges we face but helping us to act quickly to find the ideas and entrepreneurs that can help address them.”

 

Sharing mobility experiences

 

Launched in June, the City of Tomorrow Challenge platform brought together officials, residents and local businesses in Pittsburgh, as well as key programme sponsors AT&T, Dell Technologies, Microsoft and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, encouraging people to share their mobility experiences.

 

“These proposals all focus on some of the issues that Pittsburgh residents shared with us during the community engagement phases of the Challenge,” said John Kwant, vice president, Ford City Solutions. “Working closely and collaborating with the people who will use solutions like these are one way in which we hope we can start to make a positive impact on people’s mobility.”

 

After hearing numerous stories from local Pittsburgh residents, the City of Tomorrow Challenge received more than 125 unique proposals for mobility solution pilots. The Challenge’s steering committee, comprised of industry experts, partner representatives, and locals, selected 13 semi-finalists. Those semi-finalists had the opportunity to work with a mentor and local accelerator to further refine their proposals before a winner was selected.

 

Throughout the Challenge, people were encouraged to submit ideas in four key areas: enabling simple transportation choices; extend mobility options; encourage walking, biking and busing; and design creative infrastructure.

 

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