Technology TED Prize

A transportation app that plans your route, with coffee pick-up, wins City 2.0 award

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

Navigating around big cities is rarely easy. Subway systems are generally crowded and unreliable, taxis are often expensive and prone to gridlock and bike lanes remain underdeveloped in too many urban areas.

But Sara Cantor and George Aye, the founders of Chicago’s Greater Good Studio, have an idea to make getting around their city at least a little bit easier. Aye, a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago and former designer for the Chicago Transit Authority, and Cantor, a professor of design and former research director at Information Architects, are working on an app they hope will greatly improve on HopStop. They are currently designing a transportation app that will not only remind users of line closures, but will show them where to pick up a coffee along their route or remind them to bring an umbrella if rain is in the forecast. The app they envision could design a route to avoid staircases for someone with an injured ankle, or tell a user if they should take the crowded bus in front of them or wait a few minutes for a bus with a seat. The app will be created through crowdsourcing, with self-designated “Urban Agents” feeding data into the application to make it work.

Cantor and Aye’s project, Designing Chicago, has just been named the latest winner of The City 2.0 award.

In 2012, the TED Prize was bestowed upon an idea rather than an individual — The City 2.0, an online platform for the sharing of ideas to make cities function better. The $100,000 prize was broken into 10 grants of $10,000 each, to be given to a variety of projects spanning areas like transportation, education, housing, health, public space and food. So far, seven of the grants have been given out.

To suggest a project for one of the final three City 2.0 awards, nominate it through The City 2.0 website.

Comments (9)

  • Noah Cohen commented on Jun 19 2013

    I live in Chicago. This app is silly. The trains, metros and busses are everywhere and easy to navigate, and if you can’t figure it out, you just use iphone/android’s native navigator apps, which have ridiculously good support. And if my route takes me by a Starbucks, and I happen to want coffee, I think I’ll be able to see the huge STARBUCKS sign without this app’s help, thankyouverymuch.

    And there are plenty of useful new apps out there; this just isn’t one of them.

    For example, check out That’ll knock you out. They have an app that stalks you through your smartphone and pushes discounts/coupons to your phone based on your realtime location. Like, with the Larky app, when I pass by a Starbucks, my phone will actually DO something for me…

    Conclusion: Designing Chicago is useless. I’m sorry, there are so many better apps. Thumbs down.

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  • nick smith commented on Oct 16 2012

    Good app, hoping to better the introduction

  • Sara Aye commented on Oct 16 2012

    Hi Kate, just a quick fact check: I used to work at IA Collaborative, not Information Architects. Thank you so much for the article!

  • Pingback: Una app de transporte que planea tu ruta gana el premio City 2.0 « TEDxCondesaRoma

  • enes noxe commented on Oct 16 2012

    harika bir yazı.noxemedia web tasarım

  • samantha grey commented on Oct 15 2012

    Wow. that’s cool! Heads up: for educational app that will teach us how we can save the earth, try Maddie & Matt’s Happy Earth!

  • commented on Oct 15 2012

    Great app idea – simple and practical.