USDOT’s Smart City Challenge Pushes for Sustainable Infrastructure

Design competition challenges cities to develop smart city initiatives with InfraWorks 360.

City infrastructure is always in need of updating, but the Smart City Challenge hopes to accomplish more than that.

The goal of the Challenge is to create sustainable infrastructure for the cities of tomorrow.

The Smart City Challenge is a competition put on by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). Competitors are encouraged to submit proposals regarding improvements to the infrastructure of their own cities in ways that will address or enhance the needs of the community.

A Challenge for Today’s Cities

Seventy-eight American cities have submitted applications for the competition so far, ranging from Anchorage to Tallahassee. On March 12, five finalists from this pool will be selected to compete for the grand prize.

These finalist cities will receive USD$100,000 each to expand their proposals.

The winning city, which will be chosen in June 2016, will receive a grand prize of up to USD$40 million from the USDOT. An additional USD$10 million will come from launch partner Vulcan, a Paul Allen foundation company, an amount that will be used for potentially planet-saving initiatives such as electric vehicles to help us all live long and prosper.

How to Win the Challenge

No small feat: An InfraWorks 360 model of the Miami-Dade County shows just how big a smart city project is. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)

No small feat: An InfraWorks 360 model of the Miami-Dade County shows just how big a smart city project is. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)

So what will finalist cities need to achieve in order to have a chance at winning the challenge?

Their proposals will need to:

  • Convert city vehicle fleets such as public transit and taxi services and any additional private fleets from traditional combustion engines to electric motors.
  • Remove carbon use and emissions from the city’s electrical grid.
  • Deploy or allow the field testing of autonomous vehicles in order to improve safety and traffic management.
  • Encourage consumer adoption of electric vehicles.
  • Create a “user manual” of lessons learned, sustainable financing tools and data-driven metrics so that other cities can follow the example.

Software for Greener Cities

The Smart City Challenge is an ambitious competition. Cities will need to plan strategies to solve long-standing urban issues, including traffic congestion, environmental protection and climate change as well as increase the safety of travelers and pedestrians.

To help simplify the design stage of the task, competitors will have free access to Autodesk’s InfraWorks 360 platform to develop their proposals. The winner will also receive continued use of the cloud-based building information modeling (BIM) software.

One of the tasks for competing cities will be to develop plans for reducing energy use and carbon emissions, shown in this video of the Washington, D.C., rapid energy modeling plan. (Video courtesy of Autodesk/DowntownDC Business Improvement District.)

“The support of Autodesk on the USDOT’s Smart City Challenge will give the five finalists access to imagine, design and simulate what a fully integrated, forward-looking transportation network looks like,” said U.S. transportation secretary Anthony Foxx.

“As the department works to create a 21st-century transportation network, these types of collaborations can help make that vision a reality,” Foxx continued.

For more information about the competition, check out the Smart City Challenge website.