The City of Grand Rapids is experiencing one of the largest population increases in Michigan in terms of per capita percentage-increase, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That rapidly growing population, while great for the city’s economy, has placed added strain on an already congested transportation system. The growth trend has created a need for mobility solutions that can accommodate area residents in a way current systems do not.
That’s why Grand Rapids has partnered with Ford to be one of three communities to launch the City of Tomorrow Challenge, alongside Pittsburgh and Miami-Dade County. In partnership with AT&T, Dell Technologies, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and The Right Place, Ford and the City of Grand Rapids are embarking on an eight-month program to crowdsource new mobility designs and innovations for the city.
Beginning July 23rd, people who live, work, and play in Grand Rapids are invited to submit their ideas for solutions to improve or reimagine their mobility options. This can include making the city’s streets more walkable and bike-friendly, extending the use of and the information that transportation systems provide, and enabling smart transportation choices. The winning solution will be awarded a prize of up to $100,000 to fund a pilot program to put it to the test in a real-world setting.
“The future of mobility and connecting people to jobs will be critical to our long-term economic growth potential,” said Tim Mroz, vice president of marketing and communications at The Right Place. “Working in partnership with the City of Grand Rapids and Ford will not only allow us to test state-of-the-art mobility technology but, more importantly, it will let the world know we are embracing innovation in mobility.”
Ideas can be submitted to the Challenge website, where participants can also sign up for community working sessions and offer insights on how they currently move around Grand Rapids. In September, semifinalists will be selected to attend a prototyping session and receive mentoring support to refine their ideas before submitting a final pilot proposal.