Innovation

Ford launches its platform to crowdsource the future of cities in a third location

Aimed at challenging groups to come up with new ways to improve mobility and make cities smarter, Ford's City of Tomorrow program is coming to Grand Rapids, MI.

Ford is launching its City of Tomorrow Challenge in a third city, Grand Rapids, MI, after debuting in Pittsburgh and Miami-Dade County in June, according to a press release.

The challenge is a crowdsourcing platform that is intended to help cities be smart and prepare for the future while bringing together people to design and pilot new solutions to improve mobility in cities.

Each challenge is tailored to a specific city or county to address its unique mobility needs. The applications open on July 23 for participates to submit ideas for new mobility solutions. People can go to the challenge website to share their experiences, sign up for community working sessions, and offer insight.

SEE: Special report: Tech and the future of transportation (free TechRepublic PDF)

"What may work for one city might not work for another," said John Kwant, vice president of Ford City Solutions, said in the release. "Grand Rapids has its own unique needs, and it understands how seeking out new ideas to complement existing transportation systems can aid its effort to become a more accessible, walkable city. The City of Tomorrow Challenge will deliver that."

Doing this through crowdsourcing will allow residents to submit their ideas and offer insight about how they move through Grand Rapids and what changes might be helpful to improve their experience.

In Grand Rapids, the use of public transportation continues to drop and most families have two or more cars, according to the American Public Transportation Association. With Grand Rapids experiencing the largest population increase in Michigan percentage-wise, according to the US Census Bureau, there is a need to alleviate congestion and reduce transportation wait times.

"As our city grows, we want to ensure we are working with our community to make getting around Grand Rapids easier," said Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss in a press release. "We also want to strengthen confidence in our existing transportation systems. We have joined the City of Tomorrow Challenge because we believe Grand Rapids is a place where innovative ideas can improve mobility in our city."

In September, semifinalists will be selected and mentored to refine their ideas before submitting a final pilot proposal, the release noted. During the final stage of the challenge, $100,000 will be awarded to fund pilots to test the top proposed solutions in collaboration with each city, Ford and its corporate partners of AT&T, Dell Technologies, and Microsoft.

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Image: iStock/CreativeNature_nl

About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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