Three Finalists Split $250,000 to Implement Their City:One Challenge Proposals Sponsored by Ford and PlanetM

In June of 2018, Ford announced its acquisition of Michigan Central Station and its intentions to restore it to its original grandeur as it serves as the heartbeat to a new mobility innovation district in Corktown. A year later, Ford partnered with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s mobility initiative, PlanetM, to create the City:One Challenge. 


The City:One Challenge aimed to bring together government officials, local residents, startups, and entrepreneurs to understand mobility issues and figure out solutions together. The challenge evoked responses from over 2,000 local Detroit residents and received 164 unique proposals for mobility solution pilots. The selection committee consisted of industry experts, partner representatives, and local stakeholders. This committee narrowed the challenge down to 12 finalists who were each granted the opportunity to work with mentors to refine their proposal and prepare a pitch presentation. The result ended in three winners- Mercy Education Project, AbleLink Smart Living Technologies, and a proposal from the Downtown Detroit Partnership, DTE, and local artists- splitting $250,000 to fund their pilot programs.


“The quality of the proposals submitted for the City:One Challenge was simply outstanding,” said Mark de la Vergne, chief of mobility innovation for the city of Detroit. “We are truly appreciative for all the time and energy spent in understanding mobility in the area of Michigan Central Station and proposing solutions. The fact that two of the three winners are local residents demonstrates the creativity and passion that Detroiters have for mobility.”


Mercy Education Project, a nonprofit charitable organization, was selected for its proposal to implement Rock City Mobility Stations, designed to increase access to information and provide various types of mobility options. These stations would all include a kiosk that would be centered around various modes of transportation such as bike-sharing and ride-sharing services. Each kiosk would include signage, maps, bus schedules, parking information, and more.


AbleLink, a technology solutions provider, created a proposal to improve transportation for those who have cognitive disabilities, special needs, or have low-English proficiency. Their solution allows individuals to download a customizable WayFinder app where they can get instructions from a cloud-based WayFinder SMART Route Library to help them find their destination independently.


The third selected winner was a proposal introduced by a team comprised of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, DTE, and local artists. This proposal’s focus was to improve the walkability and safety of the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Lodge Freeway. This will be carried out through colorful public art commissioned by two Detroit artists, Freddy Diaz and Donald Calloway.


“The City:One Challenge builds on our commitment to advance the state’s robust mobility landscape while providing greater access to transportation solutions for residents in the Corktown community and beyond,” said Amanda Roraff, managing director of PlanetM, the mobility initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “We’re excited to welcome these pilots to Michigan’s mobility ecosystem, and to learn from them to develop better mobility solutions in the future.”


Ford created the City:One Challenge as a crowd-sourcing platform to help prepare cities for the future. The goal was to bring people together to understand mobility issues and figure out solutions together with a focus on improving mobility for people living in, working in, and visiting the community surrounding Michigan Central Station.


“A key goal for the City:One Challenge is to help preserve the unique fabric of the communities surrounding Michigan Central Station, even as the area sees expanded development,” said Jeff Jones, vice president, Ford City Solutions. “By reaching out to residents, businesses and community groups through this program, we can better understand the issues people face on a daily basis and support ideas that will have a direct impact on their lives.”


In addition to funding provided by Ford and PlanetM, the City:One Challenge was also sponsored by AT&T, Dell Technologies, and Microsoft. For more information on the semifinalists and other submitted proposals, visit the City:OneChallenge website.


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