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CMU’s Traffic21 Hosts Second Smart Mobility Challenge

Faculty, students seek to partner with local municipalities and public transit operators to solve real-world mobility problems.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Traffic21, a research institute operated out of CMU’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, and Mobility21, its affiliated USDOT National University Transportation Center in the College of Engineering, are sponsoring their second Smart Mobility Challenge with generous funding from the Hillman Foundation. As part of the continued mission to transform southwestern Pennsylvania into a testbed for mobility innovation, the Smart Mobility Challenge provides municipalities with research assistance to improve real-world mobility conditions.

"It’s exciting to see the momentum from the first challenge continue into 2019,” said Lisa Kay Schweyer, Program Manager of Traffic21. “These challenges are inspired by Traffic21’s years of successful collaboration with the City of Pittsburgh to become a globally recognized smart city test bed and our desire to demonstrate how suburban and rural communities can also benefit from a similar collaboration.” 

From infrastructure usage and emergency responses to routing services and traffic mitigation, municipality representatives and public transit operators in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties are invited to participate in this year’s challenge by identifying mobility needs affecting their communities and applying to receive support from CMU faculty and students.

“When we work directly with communities, we learn how to best direct our expertise in analyzing transportation data, and we can improve how people travel throughout the region,” says Jonathan Cagan, interim dean of CMU’s College of Engineering.

During the first challenge, 26 submissions from 8 counties in the region responded to the opportunity for research assistance by participating in the Smart Mobility Challenge. Using cutting edge research and technology, CMU faculty and students helped six municipalities address mobility problems challenging their citizens and businesses in order to improve quality of life. 

This year’s challenge will leverage Carnegie Mellon University’s Mobility Data Analytics Center (MAC), which collects, integrates and learns from massive amounts of mobility data and contributes to the development of smarter transportation systems. MAC will use the mobility problems identified in the challenge to provide data, analytics, and recommendations for the municipality’s problem.

“The Smart Mobility Challenge provides a unique opportunity for the university to help our region while also teaching students to be practitioners of intelligent action,” said Heinz College Dean Ramayya Krishnan.

This year’s partners assisting in promoting the challenge include the Pennsylvania Department of TransportationRegional Transportation Alliance of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission. These partners may also provide guidance and support to municipalities for further deployment of innovative ideas.

Those who are interested in submitting an application must apply via the online web form by 5:00 pm ET on March 29, 2019. For more information, visit the Smart Mobility Challenge.


About Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College

The Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy is home to two internationally recognized graduate-level institutions at Carnegie Mellon University: the School of Information Systems and Management and the School of Public Policy and Management. This unique colocation combined with its expertise in analytics set Heinz College apart in the areas of cybersecurity, health care, the future of work, smart cities, and arts & entertainment. In 2016, INFORMS named Heinz College the #1 academic program for Analytics Education. For more information, please visit