5 cool projects at Global City Teams Challenge

From apps to street lamps, the Global City Teams Challenge was a haven for innovative projects in smart cities. StateScoop found five of the coolest ones.

Just a year after the SmartAmerica challenge featured 24 different smart city projects from across the United States, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and U.S. Ignite partnered for the first Global City Teams Challenge.

The one-day event, which took place Monday in Washington, D.C., featured smart city projects from 50 different cities around the world, including the United States, China and the Netherlands.

Here are five cool projects StateScoop saw at the event, in no particular order:

For the first time in Austin, citizens will have a one-stop resource to access all city services, information on local businesses and local news right through their mobile device.


The app, called HubCiti, was created by the company’s CEO Roy Truitt, who told StateScoop the application serves as a white-labeled portal that can connect citizens to their city and their communities. Already place in four other Texas cities, HubCiti taps into city government services, lists local businesses and provides a platform for industry and the government to get directly into the hands of the consumer.

HubCiti allows users to easily organize city services by department, or by what they can access and complete online. The city uses a “what you see is what you get,” or WYSIWYG, interface to regularly update the app.

For a small fee, local business owners can provide HubCiti with more information that will be listed in the app, but the initial listing with a business’ basic information like a phone number and address is free. The application also can partner with a local newspaper to provide the latest news and information to its citizens.

Austin’s HubCiti app will be available in the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store for a free download soon, Truitt said.

In Seattle, a city rife with hills and steep road grades, transportation is increasingly becoming an issue for the physically disabled community.


Although public buses can accommodate wheelchairs and residents have the option to arrange for transfer via the transit system’s handicap accessible vans, these resources are proving insufficient — buses can typically accept only one to two wheelchair-bound passengers at a time, and other city-provided accessible travel options must be planned at least 24 hours ahead of time.

To ease the burden on residents who have trouble walking, the winners of Seattle’s citywide Hack The Commute hackathon used topographical data to plot different areas of the city on a scale of difficulty that takes into account steepness and length. The solution also incorporates other city data, like where construction is happening, to provide a real-time view of how accessible an area of the city is.

The team, called Hackcessible, said the solution should streamline travel for the physically disabled while also raising awareness of the need for further infrastructural advancement. Hackcessible did not stop at the conclusion of Hack The Commute, instead, the team members said they will continue to develop their software into a more flexible platform that can be adapted by cities across the country.

The solution, live at, is still in beta, but is available for use to the public.

Hackcessible’s project taps into sidewalk data from the city, an application programming interface, or API, with bus stop information and Google Maps for elevation information.


Residents of Portland are known for their interest in effective public transportation and sustainability. That’s what inspired a team of private sector and nonprofit partners, spearheaded by the IBI Group, to begin the process of collecting and analyzing the city’s air quality data to help determine the potential impact new public transit options will have on the city’s air quality.

The project team tapped into existing air quality sensors and deployed several more along transit corridors across the city. They began collecting and plotting data and ultimately hope to provide bicyclists and other public transit users a portal to show which areas of the city on particular days have the best, or worst, air quality.

According to the IBI Group’s Adrian Pearmine, access to this data will allow citizens to make better transit decisions and improve how the city plans for and deploys public transit options.

The IBI Group’s team partnered with the city of Portland, Portland State University, the Technology Association of Oregon, Verizon Wireless, NetCity and Intel to produce the project for the challenge.

At Portland State University, Ali Alavi and a team of other students developed an air quality sensor that could be deployed on rentable city bikes that are accessible through a digital radio-frequency identification chip enabled access card. By grabbing the data from the bikes, the sensor will pair air quality metrics with the location to help identify a larger picture of the city’s transit corridor’s air quality index.


Pennsylvania Avenue serves as an aorta for Washington, D.C., running through the heart of its business district and grazing important landmarks, creating a hub for restaurants, bars, museums and monuments that attract locals and tourists in large numbers.

With increased hustle and bustle comes increased need to monitor everything from energy consumption to road degradation and, in some stretches, hotspots for petty crime.

The project team, PA 2040, looked to address these issues through the use of hybrid video and sensor technology on Pennsylvania Avenue lampposts, which light up nearly 6 miles of roadway and sidewalks and consume massive quantities of energy.

In fact, the team designed a streetlight capable of monitoring its surroundings to detect everything from car crashes to pedestrian traffic levels. With this technology, the team hopes to increase emergency response times, reduce energy consumption and optimize operative efficiency for maintenance crews.

The project includes team members from the D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer, the National Capital Planning Commission and George Washington University. The name is derived from its mission to actualize today what Pennsylvania Avenue could look like in 2040.


Like most cities across the U.S., the Steel City is looking for any chance it can to cut costs and be more efficient.

Through a partnership with Boss Controls and Carnegie Mellon University, the city installed pilot “smart plugs” — which are inserted between electrical devices and a wall outlet – that transmit power output data via Wi-Fi to a portal on a mobile device or desktop. Through the plugs and the management system, the city was able to monitor power consumption in city buildings and determine what devices were causing the most power output. The user also has the ability to remotely turn off power to a particular device, which would enable the city to reduce energy use and save money on their electric bill.

According to a release from Boss, the pilot plugs were installed at no cost to the city, and found that soda vending machines and coffee pots used the most electricity. When power to those devices was managed through smart plugs, it saved the city money.

Aftyn Giles, the city’s sustainability coordinator, said the data the plugs provided was of “tremendous value” to the city.

“The city can look at a 50 percent average in savings using plug load controls year over year,” Giles said.


According to Giles, the city is looking to roll out more plugs in other city buildings.

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