U.S. cities want to ease traffic congestion and lessen climate change by using new technology. A “Smart City Challenge” by the U.S. Department of Transportation is nudging along this local innovation with a $40 million prize.
Take a look at some of the clean energy solutions from that competition, starting with Columbus, Ohio, this year’s winner of the challenge. While putting the prize money to work, the city expects to attract an additional $100 million in matching funds from local companies, higher levels of government and nonprofits. Other finalist cities plan to pursue their ideas too, by seeking funding elsewhere.
Mission: Increase public transportation, especially for people living in poor communities.
Plan: Offer self-driving electric shuttles and cars. Encourage car-sharing. Issue transit cards that can be used for all options, even without a bank account or smartphone.
Mission: Reduce carbon emissions, pollution and traffic.
Plan: Entice car drivers to get around town other ways by creating fast lanes for electric vehicles and improving access to public transportation for all commuters.
Mission: Support rapid population growth with more public transportation options.
Plan: Build smart hubs around city borders that service bus lines and provide parking lots for cars. Provide clean-running shuttles to bring commuters into the city.
Mission: Transform former industrial center to a clean-energy hub.
Plan: Turn a downtown steel plant into a renewable power-generating station and technology incubator. Introduce self-driving electric vehicles. Install smart traffic signals to lower emissions and street lights that use less energy.
Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation, City of Austin, City of Columbus, City of Pittsburgh, City of San Francisco, Shutterstock