Monday at Rail~Volution Pittsburgh saw round 1 of the first-ever Rail~Volution Innovation Challenge. Five contestants pitched their ideas for improving livability through technology. The ideas ranged from making it easier to know if a bus has a seat available (and thereby reducing delay at bus stops) to dynamic management of traffic lanes for multiple modes (and autonomous vehicles) to new software for designing streets and harnessing data to plan development. Based on set criteria, three judges quizzed the contestants and probed the ideas.
Tech Tank Innovation Challenge contestants before the start. From left: Tiffany Chu, Remix (seated); Ryan Winn, AECOM; Andy Likuski, State of Place; Jack Robbins, FXCollaborative; Laura Grams, HDR.
Tech Tank Innovation Challenge judges. From left: Katherine Eagan Kelleman, CEO, Port Authority of Allegheny County; John Swanson, Project Manager, Rail, Clever Devices; and Earl Blumenauer, Congressman, 3rd District, Oregon.
While judges confer, contestants take questions from the audience. From left: Laura Grams, Transit Project Manager, HDR, Houston, TX; Ryan Winn, Transportation Planner, AECOM, Los Angeles, CA; Jack Robbins, Principal, Director of Urban Design, FX Collaborative, New York, NY; Andy Likuski, Chief Technology Officer, State of Place, Oakland, CA; Tiffany Chu, Co-Founder, Remix, San Francisco, CA
The judges conferred and narrowed the field to two. On Wednesday at the Closing Plenary, the finalists made their pitch to all Rail~Volution attendees.
Jack Robbins, from FX Collaborative, described a future when street space currently taken up by parking will be available for other uses. He pitched “Public Square,” a “flexible, deployable, and unitized” platform for repurposing streets, space by space. According to the video submission for the contest, each square contains the infrastructure for power, water, wifi, and smart street technology. Jack’s presentation demonstrated how Public Square would allow communities to decide what they want to see on their streets – from bike parking to green space, from play areas to places to rest or meet friends – and test ideas, incrementally.
Tiffany Chu, from Remix, was next. She asked, “What if you could understand, analyze, and redesign your streets in less than two minutes?” The solution she pitched, Remix Streets, gathers all the data in one place. It allows quick and easy transfer of ideas to visualizations. And makes it easier to share ideas with the public. Tiffany then demonstrated the product by zooming in on a Pittsburgh street and adjusting design to prioritize for transit and bicycle access and safer intersections – in less than 2 minutes.
Tech Tank Innovation Challenge finalists. Left: Tiffany Chu, Co-Founder, Remix, San Francisco, CA; Right: Jack Robbins, Principal, Director of Urban Design, FX Collaborative, New York, NY. Below: Bev Scott, PhD, CEO, Beverly Scott Associates, Emcees the Tech Tank and questions the finalists.
After taking another round of questions from Tech Tank Emcee, Beverly Scott, PhD and CEO of Beverly Scott Associates, the audience voted for the winner via – yes – their smart phones. The winner of the first-ever Rail~Volution Tech Tank Innovation Challenge is Tiffany Chu!
The Tech Tank Innovation Challenge started as an idea at a meeting of Rail~Volution’s National Steering Committee (NSC) early in 2018. The NSC “Innovations in Mobility” workgroup crafted a call for video submissions for new technology to improve community livability. The work group narrowed the submissions over the summer and worked with contestants, judges, and our emcee to plan round 1 and 2. They also reached out to the sponsor of the first-ever Innovation Challenge, Clever Devices, a leading provider of public transportation fleet management and real-time passenger facing solutions for rail, fixed-route, bus rapid transit and paratransit. Stay tuned for next year!
A Tech Tank group shot. Two members of Rail~Volution’s National Steering Committee were primary coordinators of the Tech Tank: Monica Villalobos, Associate Vice President, Transportation Planning, AECOM (far left) and Teresa Boyle, Manager, Major Projects and Partnerships Section, City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (far right). Dan Bartholomay (second from left) is CEO of Rail~Volution; Jack Robbins, FX Collaborative; Beverly Scott, PhD & CEO Beverly Scott Associates; and Tiffany Chu from Remix, our Tech Tank 2018 Winner.