$50k Offered in Prize to Make New York Safer for Smartphone Users

Tim Maytom

Taxi New York  2A new competition for designers and engineers has been launched, aimed at using smartphone technology to keep pedestrians, cyclists and motorists safe and aware of their surroundings in New York.

The Connected Intersections Challenge, created by AT&T and ChallengePost, is offering $50,000 (£30,000) in prize funds for developers who can help provide solutions.

The three-month challenge is asking designers, along with hardware and software engineers, to create smartphone apps and wearable tech that will augment people's connectedness to their immediate surroundings while reducing distraction. Sensor-based technology and device-to-device communication have been suggested among the possible areas where developers can focus.

The prize fund is split based on what form of transportation any apps or devices focus on, with $10,000 offered for the driver's grand prize, $15,000 for the cyclist and pedestrian winner, and $5,000 for 'multi-modal connections' that increase awareness among all road users.

According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, distracted driving causes nine fatalities and more than 1,000 injuries every day, and the rapid increase in mobile phone use has been linked to many of these accidents. However, it's not just motorists who are creating risks through phone use – a study at New York's Bellevue Hospital Center found that around eight per cent of pedestrians and cyclists were injured while using an electronic device, which rose to 10 per cent of pedestrians and 30 per cent of cyclists when focusing on those aged seven to 17.