Ford Motor Company and the city of Pittsburgh, are working closely with public stakeholders and private partners including Dell Technologies, Microsoft and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership to launch the “Pittsburgh City of Tomorrow Challenge,” a crowdsourcing platform for residents, businesses and community groups to propose and pilot solutions that improve mobility in Pittsburgh.
According to a United Nations report on world urbanization, 66 percent of the world’s population is projected to live in cities by 2050. As urban populations surge and new technologies take shape, the way people move around cities is changing, and the Pittsburgh of tomorrow will be very different from the Pittsburgh of the past – it will be green, accessible, sustainable and built around the needs of its people. The City of Tomorrow is Ford’s vision for the future that understands the need to make a continuous effort to implement solutions that address transportation challenges, such as crossing bridges, to enable people to get to work or spend more time connecting with friends and family.
This is why Ford has created the City of Tomorrow Challenge – engaging communities around the mobility issues they care about most. The collaboration with Pittsburgh pairs the rich technology expertise of Ford and its partners with the real world experience and lived stories of Pittsburgh and its residents, creating an opportunity to propose ideas for how data, technology, and design might be put to use to address the city’s needs.
“Nobody knows the Steel City better than its own hard-working businesses and community members, which is why we’re reaching out directly to them with the City of Tomorrow Challenge,” said Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh mayor. “We want to give anyone who’s interested in their city a chance to be a part of finding real solutions to the issues they face every day – and to put those ideas to the test for everyone’s benefit.”
Throughout the eight-month program, residents, businesses, and community organizations are invited to share how they experience transportation in Pittsburgh and how mobility either enables them or serves as a barrier to accessing the important aspects of their daily lives. Pittsburgh officials are also seeking ideas to better their city in a number of ways, including improving access to travel information, building confidence in existing systems, and soliciting ideas for improvements that can supplement existing services. To encourage people to take part and to test out the best ideas, the Challenge includes $100,000 to fund pilots that test the top ideas.
“Pittsburgh is at the precipice of change and we need to make sure the bright future we see is one where everyone can thrive,” said Karina Ricks, Pittsburgh director of mobility and infrastructure. “The City of Tomorrow Challenge will put deep analytical power and industry insight in service of the people of Pittsburgh, bringing forward innovative real world solutions to today’s mobility challenges that help us achieve an inclusive tomorrow.”
By working with Pittsburgh communities to crowdsource new mobility designs and innovations, and funding pilots to test the top solutions, the Challenge program’s goal is to identify meaningful opportunities to create immediate impact for Pittsburgh residents and support long-term improvements to how people get around the city.
“No two cities are the same – that’s why we’re committed to really understanding their specific issues and their needs,” said John Kwant, vice president, Ford City Solutions. “With the City of Tomorrow Challenge, our goal is to provide a program and access to technology that makes it easy for cities to engage residents, businesses and other groups in a way that can lead to real solutions.”
How it works – and how you can get involved
People can go to the Challenge website to share their experiences, sign up for community working sessions, and offer insight into the variety of ways people move around Pittsburgh today. Additionally, city staff will be out at a number of local neighborhood festivities and events to engage residents directly. On July 2, the application period will open and participants can submit ideas for accessible solutions.
In September, semi-finalists will be selected from among all submissions to attend a prototyping session and receive mentoring support to refine their ideas before submitting a final pilot proposal. During the Challenge’s concluding stage, $100,000 will be awarded to fund pilots to test the proposed strategy in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh, Ford and the Challenge’s corporate partners.
“We’re encouraging everyone to participate – from residents, community groups, and local businesses to universities and innovation centers across the U.S. and around the world – knowing the key to finding solutions and making a difference is widespread collaboration,” said Kwant.