- Ford has expanded its City:One innovation challenge to Austin, TX, offering up to $100,000 in funding for pilot projects that would improve mobility in the city.
- Under the challenge, which is organized with the Austin Transportation Department, startups and residents can suggest proposals to fix "unmet transportation needs," with a focus on increasing access in the city’s eastern neighborhoods.
- Ideas are being accepted through the City:One website and two winners will be announced in January. Ford will also hold a community workshop on July 18.
The City:One competition, previously known as the City of Tomorrow Challenge, seeks ideas that address community priorities. Previous challenges have awarded projects like an app offering safe transportation options for night shift workers and a platform to organize school pickups.
Austin is the fourth city where Ford has opened the City:One challenge, joining Indianapolis, Detroit and Mexico City. While the challenges are open-ended, they each reflect respective mobility features. For example, the Detroit challenge, announced last week, is focused on how to make the historic Corktown neighborhood more accessible and open to alternative transportation options, especially as Ford begins testing autonomous vehicles there.
The challenge will expand Austin’s existing work on smart transportation, which has been a priority for the city's transportation department. This week, Austin became a founding member of the Open Mobility Foundation, a public-private coalition that seeks to build and oversee open-source technology tools to improve management of transportation infrastructure.
Austin has also worked on microtransit, this week announcing a partnership with ride-hailing service Via to replace a bus line. The city is also testing autonomous shuttles to connect downtown destinations.
In an interview last year with Smart Cities Dive, Jason JonMichael, Austin’s assistant director for smart mobility, said the city is taking an "all modes, all roads" approach to mobility. That means looking at mobility "from an equitable perspective," an approach that the resident-focused Ford challenge is sure to continue.