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US Ignite Builds Smart Transportation Tools for Stronger Communities

Working closely with our local government partners, US Ignite’s mission is to support the development and deployment of smart and connected community tools that create broad economic opportunities. Our goal is to catalyze, organize and advise communities to create tools and platforms that position communities for the future by accelerating the adoption of new Smart City applications in cities across the country. US Ignite leverages these new tools to drive economic development, generate new city services, expand investment in high-growth startups, and foster the creation of high-skilled jobs. To date, US Ignite has helped city partners bring economic renewal in former manufacturing towns, connected rural communities to a national support system, and provided new educational tools to low-income neighborhoods. Through US Ignite and our programs, communities seek solutions to understand, manage, and solve challenges faced by communities around the world.

More specifically, US Ignite and a national network of local government partners work to create next-generation applications that provide transformative public benefit in six sectors of the economy: transportation, healthcare, education, public safety, energy, and advanced manufacturing. In the transportation sector, US Ignite and our partner communities are working on the following projects:

Driving Electric Vehicle Adoption

Over the past five years, there has been significant growth in the electric vehicle (EV) market as prices have come down, ranges have increased, and charging stations have become easier to find. EV and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) already account for over 1% of the total market, with over 100,000 vehicles sold in the US in 2016 alone – with over 1 million sold globally. EV models produce less than half of the emissions over the lifecycle of the vehicle, according to a recent Union of Concerned Scientists study. Another report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) noted that EVs were the only class of carbon-reduction technology making enough progress to meet global goals to keep global warming below the level of 2º Celsius. While the environmental impact of EVs is relatively light and overall market growth is strong, for many households these EVs remain too costly. To address this challenge one US Ignite community, Chattanooga, has recently received a grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to pilot an EV sharing program for its residents for just $9 an hour. EV ride-sharing is one approach that can expand the EV market and give broader access to families to this important technology. Cities and states also need to establish a strong set of EV policies for driving adoption, including financial incentives, carpool lanes, public charging stations, and others. US Ignite has proposed the following goal and role:

  • Role for US Ignite: Identify those cities with the strongest EV policies for adoption while sharing best practices across participating communities, make a compelling case for new network sensors and data that enable EV-sharing and disseminate best practices related to the Chattanooga and other pilots.

Supporting Autonomous Vehicle Development

Since the DARPA Grand Challenge powerfully demonstrated that autonomous vehicles (AV) were more than science fiction in 2005, there has been a growing range of companies developing technologies in this area, from Internet-based companies, like Uber and Google, to car companies like GM and newcomers including Tesla, Local Motors and Innova. Today, only 9% of households do not own a vehicle, while 58% have two or more vehicles (EIA report). The promise of AVs is to dramatically lower vehicle ownership through ride sharing while increasing transportation safety. To further usher in AVs, the Department of Transportation (DoT) released an AV policy – this policy encourages continued technological advancement while observing safety. To accelerate these technologies, the State of Michigan passed new laws in December 2016 allowing AVs to operate in thestate and for auto manufacturers to create their own ride-sharing services. Michigan has also funded large testing facilities, including at the famous Willow Run manufacturing plant. Other cities and states will need new regulations to support AVs, like Michigan, to drive AV adoption and reduce the environmental impact of the transportation sector. US Ignite has proposed the following goal and role:

  • Program Goal: Accelerate the development of AVs while increasing the opportunities for ride-sharing programs to drive economic development and environmental benefits.
  • Role for US Ignite: Leverage AV pilot programs from local community partners to assist scale-up to a larger set of cities and states to develop new networking technologies that improve AV network connectivity, overall AV experience, safety, mobility, and data gathering and analytics.

Using IoT to give Cities Real-Time Information

Communities are looking to quickly identify current gaps in their smart city data, application, and modeling tools to design a cohesive smart transportation strategy with their industry, university, and nonprofit partners. US Ignite works to encourage collaboration among a broad range of stakeholders in order to provide local smart transportation efforts the runway needed to succeed and drive new opportunities for adoption. For smart transportation efforts to be successful at scale, local governments and their partners will need access to best-in-class data repositories for economic, social, demographic data, mapping and GIS data and real-time smart city sensor data sets. Such a repository will integrate sensor networks and sources, including transportation and environmental data while ensuring user privacy and security. Cities will utilize integrated data in order to enable smart city modeling and simulation tools that allow a community to predict the likelihood of future events as well as integrate data visualization tools. US Ignite has proposed the following goal and role:

  • Program Goal: Enhance the usage of IoT sensors for smart transportation, improving cities planning and real-time decision-making while reducing the overall environmental impact of the transportation sector.
  • Role for US Ignite: Leverage current best-in-class smart transportation sensor networks, data analysis, modeling, and visualization tools to create a unique transportation dashboard for partner cities.

US Ignite: Building on a Track Record of Success

Since 2015, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and US Ignite have co-convened the Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC), an initiative designed to facilitate partnerships among communities, universities, and industry to deploy Internet of Things (IoT) applications in a smart city environment. In 2017, organizations participating in GCTC, including 100+ local governments, are forming multi-city projects to develop project blueprints that identify shared objectives for common IoT deployments. At US Ignite, we believe this endeavor within GCTC to encourage multi-city deployments creates an opportunity for fruitful collaboration between the GCTC and the US Department of Transportation’s (US DoT) Smart City Challenge and other programs.

More than 20% of current GCTC projects seek to address opportunities related to transportation, including autonomous vehicles, transit hubs, and traffic congestion among others. During this stage when GCTC Transportation multi-city teams are forming, US Ignite provides input about existing programs and funding priorities that would provide meaningful guidance to local governments and their project partners. A chart (below) of existing GCTC projects provides a snapshot of the type of transportation projects that will come together to form multi-city, smart transportation projects:

Location of Current GCTC Project

Description of Current GCTC Project

Potential Topic Area of Multi-City Project

Columbus Scalable, replicable low speed automated shuttle solution. Connected Vehicles
Columbus Electric vehicle with on-demand ordering capability and that demonstrates the collision avoidance abilities of the vehicle. Connected Vehicles
Madison Urban electric vehicles (UEVs) demonstration for commuting within a campus and/or urban environment. Connected Vehicles
Kansas City Model smart city network that is capable of improving city life, including avoiding traffic congestion and finding a parking spot. Infrastructure Data and Planning
Atlanta Citizen-created and curated data can be used to inform the design and build-out of transportation infrastructure. Infrastructure Data and Planning
Montgomery County, MD Public infrastructure as a platform for service delivery across domains. Infrastructure Data and Planning
Tallahassee Data-fusion tool for integrating data from various urban infrastructure and social media to enhance citizen participation in urban mobility. Infrastructure Data and Planning
New York, NY Creates rewards for the safest drivers within specific ‘classes’ of livery vehicles, service providers (Uber Lyft) or fleet leasing companies. Infrastructure Data and Planning
Oakland Closes the loop between infrastructure development and data collection related to users of non-motorized vehicles. Infrastructure Data and Planning
Austin Novel methods for cities to combine the data they collect and create visual metrics for transportation performance management. Infrastructure Data and Planning
Washington, DC Monitoring parking space occupancy with new sensors, allowing DDOT to adjust parking prices so demand is better reflected. Smart Parking
Atlanta Collecting and displaying real-time data for public transit operators in order to inform effective use of various mobility options. Transit Hub
New York, NY Transform transportation hubs into smart facilities for populations with visual impairment and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Transit Hub
Baltimore Planning and piloting Electric Vehicle-ready Transit Hubs. Transit Hub
Nashville Transit-Hub App with a multi-modal transit planning service that includes park-and-ride integration as well as car share service integration. Transit Hub
Nashville Models for various safety and emergency incidents and uses information to identify appropriate equipment requirements. Transit Hub
Portland, OR Sensor-connected “smart” corridor providing transit data, traffic signalization and air quality sensing through a data portal. Transportation and Air Quality
Pittsburgh Deployed 30 real time, multi-pollutant sensors (RAMPs) at traffic intersections with an adaptive traffic control system that optimizes traffic flows Transportation and Air Quality
Washington DC Network of environmental sensors to enable public access to environmental data like temperature, wind, gas and particulate concentration and traffic flows, simultaneously from all over the city. Transportation and Air Quality