Autodesk and the US DOT Smart City Challenge

by: Karen Weiss | 06/17/2016
Estimated Reading time: 3 - 4 minutes

The idea of the Smart City is to connect people to places and information while also optimizing the operation of their assets into the future. Autodesk is proud to be partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation on the Smart City Challenge. The initiative aims to “to 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.” The U.S. DOT is serious about the effort and has committed $40 million to the winner of the challenge.


traffic on road and buildings in beijing

You may be thinking, “What does Autodesk have to do with Smart Cities?” From an Autodesk perspective the concept of a “Smart City” is not only about using the internet of things to communicate information to city residents or optimize the services provided to them, but it is a construct in which to frame local government transformation. Cities need to transform in order to develop sustainably, improve resilience, meet citizens’ rising expectations, and attract investment, new businesses, and talent. A smart city makes use of data and technology to make work easier, life better, access faster and fosters community engagement.


People walking through automatic ticket wicket at station, blurred motion, Tokyo, JapanBeyond just smart technology, creating a smart city requires us to be smart about how we design, make and use them. Autodesk supports smart city initiatives by providing the platform to create, communicate and evaluate transportation options that results in a more connected, sustainable and resilient community. Cities are often overwhelmed by big data and the ability to make it actionable information. For the US DOT Smart City Challenge, cities were asked to ‘Imagine a city where transportation just works.’ The benefit of the Autodesk approach includes managing the connections between the many data sets and representations needed to create the complex design projects where transportation ‘just works’. By managing the connection between the data, design concepts can be created quicker, vetted and approved faster and communicated to public stakeholder in a way that reduces pushback.


I was happy to see that my hometown of Madison, WI submitted a proposal to the Smart City Challenge. While not selected as a finalist (finalist cities include Austin, Columbus, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland and San Francisco), I am hopeful that best practices and ideas from the finalists and winning city will ultimately makes its way into my community as well.

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