Technology TED Prize

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

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.