Autodesk Supports U.S. DOT Smart City Challenge

On March 7th, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) received the support of Autodesk for the Department’s Smart City Challenge – a competition which will create a fully integrated, first-of-its-kind city that uses data, technology and creativity to shape how people and goods move in the future.  To support the Smart City Challenge, each of the five finalist cities will each receive complimentary access to Autodesk InfraWorks 360 and training and technical support to help define their vision during the final stage of the competition and beyond.

In the USDOT’s announcement, Autodesk President and CEO Carl Bass is quoted: “With climate change, increasing urban populations and crumbling infrastructure facing our cities, Secretary Foxx’s Smart City Challenge comes at a great time…The focus of the challenge mirrors Autodesk’s vision to imagine, design and create a better world, and we are proud to support the finalist cities to bring their designs into an achievable, data-driven reality.”

The USDOT and Autodesk provided The Atlantic CityLab’s Eric Jaffe an exclusive of the announcement.  Below is his article:

A $50 Million Plan to Get Cities Thinking About Driverless Cars

DOT’s Smart City Challenge hopes to jumpstart a discussion that’s been delayed for too long.

Given all the advances being made in driverless cars, America’s cities have been startlingly slow to incorporate the technology into their plans. A recent analysis found that, as of mid-2013, just one of the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan planning organizations bothered to mention autonomous vehicles in its long-term outlook—that single nod coming in a brief sidebar. But dangle up to $50 million out there for a futuristic transport vision and it’s amazing how quickly things change.

The U.S. Department of Transportation did just that in December when it announced the Smart City Challenge, an urban innovation contest that asked midsized metros to draw up ideas for improving safety and mobility with driverless cars, intelligent infrastructure, street sensors, and the like. Since then 78 cities have applied, with DOT set to narrow the field to five finalists this Saturday at South by Southwest. The winner will be named in June.

“I think there was pent-up energy at the city level for a chance to define the future,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx tells CityLab. “That’s what we’re giving these cities.”

Foxx says the goal of the challenge is to produce not just conceptual outlines but “real models” at work in an urban environment. To that end, DOT will announce a new contest partnership today with the infrastructure software giant Autodesk. As they refine their proposals, the finalists will get access to (and training on) InfraWorks 360, a “building information modeling” platform that uses 3-D visualizations and real-world data to plan major engineering projects. 

“Their system is able to create 20 different versions of the same thing and help you figure out which of those versions makes the most sense,” says Foxx. “What they bring is … the capability to design a concept on a computer and to actually see how well it works. To scope it, to figure out what inputs you need, to figure out what changes you need to make before you spend a lot of money putting something on the ground.”

InfraWorks 360 has been used for a number of major civil infrastructure projects, including Denver International Airport’s new hotel and transit hub. Washington, D.C., recently used the program to model how energy retrofits or green roofs could help the city meet its sustainability targets. Theo Agelopoulos of Autodesk says InfraWorks 360 is particularly handy in selling complicated projects to the public—producing vivid designs and hard figures that simplify the discussion.


“The ability to create a model attached to their cost-benefit analysis..

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