‘West Lafayette Smart City Challenge’ aims to improve transportation safety

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West Lafayette City Challenge

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Innovation Partners Institute at the Purdue Research Foundation partnered with the city of West Lafayette, the Indiana 5G Zone and US Ignite to announce the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge, a competition designed to provide innovative solutions that improve transportation safety, most specifically in the Discovery Park District.

“Through this challenge, the streets of West Lafayette can become a safer place for vulnerable road users like pedestrians, bicyclists, scooter riders, skaters and motorcyclists who share the roadway with autonomous and larger vehicles,” said Erin Easter, director of development for the city of West Lafayette, in a press release. “Improving the safety for West Lafayette residents and visitors is a top priority, and we are enthusiastic about the outcomes of this competition.”

Discovery Park District has a tendency to become highly trafficked during events that would call for a high volume of people — such as concerts, festivals and football games. Of course, it also doubles every fall through spring when students come to the Purdue University campus.

“The town-gown partnership between Purdue and West Lafayette is writing yet another new chapter in the innovation campus,” said Mung Chiang, Dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue University and executive vice president for strategic initiatives, in a press release. “We cherish the opportunity to create jobs and knowledge together, and now we can do lab-to-life translation of the latest invention in communications, transportation, public safety and benefit our neighborhood. We encourage inventors and entrepreneurs from around the country to participate in the Smart City Challenge.”

The West Lafayette Smart City Challenge will have three phases. The first has participants submitting a proposal through an online application by December 3, with up to three teams being awarded $5,000 each to develop a prototype in the second phase. The third phase will have only one of the finalists piloting their solution for the city of West Lafayette, gaining access to potential investors and a one-year membership to NT Convergence.

“We designed the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge with the intent of offering more than a competitive challenge opportunity,” said Troy Hege, vice president of innovation and technology at the Purdue Research Foundation and lead West Lafayette Smart City Challenge organizer, in a press release. “We really wanted to support the teams with technical coaching and mentorship to enable the best ideas to be advanced successfully.”

Proposals are welcome from any U.S. university-based faculty and/or student (graduate or undergraduate) teams, or from U.S. owned and operated startups or businesses with fewer than 25 employees. More information and details can be found online, as well as during a virtual information session at 2 p.m. on October 20.

“US Ignite specializes in guiding communities to utilize prizes and challenges to uncover innovative and scalable solutions with a high impact potential,” said Jigyasa Sharma, program manager at US Ignite, in a press release. “The West Lafayette Smart City Challenge generates an opportunity for the best ideas that leverage existing data and information to produce actionable insights for improving road user safety and get in front of key decision-makers and potential investors.”

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