- Ford will expand its competition to crowdsource mobility solutions — now rebranded as the City:One Challenge — to Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood as well as Indianapolis and Austin, TX. The competition, previously known as the City of Tomorrow Challenge, will also reach international cities later this year.
- The eight-month challenge invites residents to work on new mobility designs, apps and innovations that make cities more walkable and bike-friendly or enable smart transportation choices. The company is offering a prize of up to $100,000 to fund pilots to test the winning solutions.
- Ford will also expand the National Street Service pilot program and rebrand it as the City:One Streets program. That initiative seeks to help citizens engage with cities on reimagining how streets and public spaces are designed.
The competition, which was previously called City of Tomorrow, launched last year in Pittsburgh, Miami and Grand Rapids, MI. The winners included iomob, a mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) firm working on multimodal transportation; Safe Shift, an app that offered safe transportation options for night shift workers; and PikMyKid, a mobile platform to organize school pickups. The company also recognized digital bulletin board maker Soofa and Kaizen Health, a healthcare transportation company.
The expanded challenge marks Ford’s continued expansion beyond its automaker identity to become a full-bore mobility company. Following its acquisition of shuttle company Chariot and its partnership with Motivate on a bike-share network in San Francisco, the support of new mobility platforms signals Ford is pivoting to a future in which customers are looking for more choice than a personal automobile. Brett Wheatley, Ford’s vice president of mobility marketing and growth, wrote in a Medium post that the company can "solve larger problems that affect the entire city to create greater access for everyone."
The challenge also emphasizes input from city residents and government officials to find solutions that are tailor-made for the host city. All three of the new City:One Challenge sites have their own mobility challenges and opportunities.
Detroit and Indianapolis both have automaking roots and have nearby universities working on autonomous vehicles. Austin, meanwhile, has been a leader in emerging mobility options, especially dockless scooters, and recently released its own strategic mobility plan to push innovation and reduce the number of commuters traveling in single-occupancy cars. With Ford’s backing, the challenge can bring even more innovation that furthers those goals.