Denver and Austin were finalists in the competition. Since then, they've found ways to implement their ideas.
78 cities applied to the Obama Administration's Smart Cities Challenge last year, proposing innovative uses of data, apps, and technology to improve transportation systems. Though Columbus, Ohio was the ultimate winner of $50 million in private and DOT dollars, Governing reports that many of the other cities are also moving forward on their ideas.
In Denver and Austin, just putting the submissions together "energized" city staff and fostered collaboration among people "who normally don't work side by side"—garnering a combination of other federal grants and public-private partnerships to support their plans. Austin is now creating a new regional center where "transportation officials from the city, state, toll roads, and transit agencies can coordinate their day-to-day operations with each other."
That kind of integration was an organizing principle in the Smart Cities Challenge, and for good reason: Coordination behind the scenes can lead to improved traffic and quicker solutions to problems on the ground.
“Ultimately, I don’t care if it’s a state engineer that hits the button that automatically gets more green time on city arterials, or if it’s a city traffic engineering saying, ‘There’s an accident over there on the freeway, so I better put up information signs up and down the freeway so that people know what to expect,” [Austin Transportation's Robert Spillar] said. “That seems simple, but I will tell you it’s like trying to jump over the Grand Canyon.”
Boston Transit Riders Report Safety Concerns
Almost three-quarters of current and former riders report feeling unsafe while using MBTA services.
The Unceremonious Death of a Freeway Expansion Project
The end of an Oregon freeway project didn't get much fanfare, but the victory is worth celebrating.
Houston Lot Size Reforms Yield Positive Results
New research shows that reducing lot size requirements helped create thousands of new homes.
Omaha Streetcar Breaks Ground
The city aims to bring back its once-extensive streetcar network.
From Zero to Two: Houston’s Bike Share Saga Continues
The city is now proposing supporting BCycle as well as launching a new, complementary system.
‘Affordability Unlocked’ Boosts Austin’s Affordable Housing Production
A 2019 program has created new housing at a faster rate than other city programs.
Knoxville-Knox County Planning
City of Stonecrest
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Mpact: Mobility, Community, Possibility
City of San Carlos
National Capital Planning Commission
City of Culver City
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.