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Ford Challenges Michigan with Crowdsourcing Grants & Stipends

Ford, the City of Detroit and PlanetM are launching the City:One Michigan Central Station Challenge , a co-creation and crowdsourcing program for residents, businesses and community groups to propose and pilot solutions that improve mobility in the neighborhoods surrounding the historic train station.

The community engagement program is designed as a collaborative process, offering local residents the opportunity to share their experiences and suggest ideas for how to solve their most pressing mobility problems.

Solutions chosen for pilot tests will be supported with $250,000, while an additional $78,000 in stipends is available to support 12 finalists as they tailor their ideas and develop full pilot proposals. In addition to funding from Ford and PlanetM, further support for the program will be contributed from sponsors AT&T, Dell Technologies, and Microsoft.”

“As the city that put the world on wheels, innovation is in the DNA of all Detroiters. I’m certain that the City:One Challenge collaboration between Ford and the residents around Michigan Central Station will result in a number of unique ideas that will make it easier, safer, and more affordable to get around the area,” said Mark de la Vergne, Chief of Mobility Innovation for the City of Detroit.

The goal of the Challenge is to help improve the quality of life for people living, working and visiting the community surrounding Michigan Central Station through the development of mobility solutions that complement existing transportation services.

“We have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to advance our state’s technology and automotive landscape in a way that also makes communities safer, greener and more productive,” said Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist. “Today’s announcement of the City:One Michigan Central Station Challenge, reconfirms Michigan’s commitment to maintaining our edge in mobility, while improving the lives and safety of residents here in Detroit, and across the state.”

The City:One Challenge will also support and inform the broader transportation planning efforts currently under the Greater Corktown Neighborhood Framework Plan, as well as the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Planning and Environmental Linkages Study for Michigan Avenue.

“Ensuring that inclusive and accessible transportation options exist for the people in our community remains a vital priority, and it starts with identifying solutions to today’s most crucial mobility challenges,” said Trevor Pawl, senior vice president of Business Innovation at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “The City:One Michigan Central Station Challenge combines Michigan’s opportunistic approach to the advancement of new mobility technology with our commitment to improving the quality of life for individuals, by directly engaging with those most impacted in the community.”

During the Challenge, participants will investigate potential methods that help residents overcome barriers to transportation, make biking and walking more inviting, and help residents move to and from the neighborhoods around the train station to destinations throughout Detroit. Additionally, the Challenge will explore how to bring important daily services to residents, especially those who may not have easy access to transportation.

Throughout the eight-month program, the Challenge will invite residents, community organizations and businesses to explore dynamic mobility options focused around their top needs. Ford, PlanetM and program sponsors will assist with the community collaboration process.

“We strongly believe that the residents and business owners in the neighborhoods surrounding Michigan Central Station are critical partners in ensuring the community can meet the needs of all its residents,” said Aniela Kuzon, global lead, Ford City:One Innovation “That’s why we’re directly involving the community in our City:One Challenge. Improving mobility for current and future residents will be crucial to preserving the unique fabric of the entire community.”

Ford launched its City:Challenge platform in 2018 with Pittsburgh, Miami-Dade County and Grand Rapids, Mich. The three challenges resulted in pilots addressing issues ranging from long, inefficient student pickup lines at schools to safer transportation methods for night shift workers who must travel during non-traditional hours. In addition to the City:One Michigan Central Station Challenge, Ford has launched a challenge in Indianapolis and Mexico City with more cities to come.

How it works – and how to get involved

Starting today, residents interested in participating and submitting ideas can go to the City:One Challenge website to share their mobility experiences and sign up for the first in a series of community working sessions, where residents come together to listen to mobility stories and design innovative solutions together.

Ford and its collaborators will combine insights from online submissions and the community workshops using advanced data analytics to help shape the issues explored by the program. While this Challenge is focused on the development area around Michigan Central Station, where you live does not matter when it comes to participation.

The first community workshop will take place on Wednesday, June 26 from 5:30-8pm at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center. Other workshop dates will be announced in the future. Community members, businesses, startups and innovators can begin submitting ideas for new mobility solutions the week of August 28.

In October, a committee of city officials, community stakeholders and corporate collaborators will select finalists to receive in-kind support and cash stipends to refine their ideas into a final pilot proposal. Finally, a panel of judges working with Detroit city officials, Ford and its collaborators will award up to $250,000 to fund pilots to test the top proposed solutions.

In addition to the City:One Challenge, Ford is investing $740 million to restore the long-abandoned train station to its original grandeur and create a new destination that will bring together civic organizations, urban planners, technologists, designers, companies and communities to create the future of mobility. The area will serve as a catalyst for new ideas and a proving ground for autonomous vehicles, connectivity and new transportation solutions.

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