USDOT asks public for next big transportation technology tool

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently used his FastLane blog to call on tech-savvy and creative individuals across the country to come up with a new technology tool, such as a mobile application or web-based device, that will revolutionize "the way Americans see and understand the transportation system they use every day."

USDOT's Data Innovation Challenge asks the public to create a tool to "address systemic challenges by accessing publicly-available federal and/or local DOT datasets." USDOT wants those interested in submitting an idea in one of three categories: safety (addressing concerns and challenges); transportation access (how transportation connects people to all the facets of their lives); and traffic management and congestion (how to combat the problem). USDOT is specifically interested in web-based tools, data visualizations, mobile apps, and any innovative uses of technology that access publicly available datasets.

"Here at DOT, we think it's time to take transportation data to the next level, and we need your help to do it," Foxx said. "If you have an idea for an innovative tool to help meet transportation challenges, this is your opportunity. If you're ready to revolutionize our transportation system, this is your opportunity. It's all part of a balanced and responsible approach to improving our transportation system. Yes, we need to continue investing in infrastructure, but we also need to make better use of the resources we already have, and one of the most valuable resources we have is data."

Submissions are judged based on four aspects: technical and operational feasibility (addressing risks and challenges and how to overcome them), potential for widespread adoption (would it go viral, and how does USDOT get people to use it?), innovation, and social benefit (how would it help transportation users and society?). The winner (or winners) will be invited to a ceremony at USDOT headquarters in Washington, D.C. with Foxx and other senior officials.

All submission materials are due by 5 p.m. EST on Wednesday, April 30. Additional information on the Data Innovation Challenge is available here. Read Foxx's blog on the competition here.

Published 3-07-14