The City of Tomorrow Challenge is Reimagining Urban Mobility

Sean T. Johnston

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Cities are growing at a phenomenal pace. It is estimated that two-thirds of the planet’s population will be living in cities by the year 20501. This is putting an enormous strain on already stretched municipalities. Traffic congestion, loss in productivity, health concerns and, importantly, loss of time to do the things we want to be doing are all problems that will continue to grow if we don’t think proactively.


To tackle the transportation problems of tomorrow, we need to start solving them today. Miami-Dade, Pittsburgh, and Grand Rapids have teamed up with us at Ford, along with our partners AT&T, Dell and Microsoft to solve these problems through the City of Tomorrow Challenge.


At its core, the Challenge is centered on humanity and understanding the mobility needs of real people. That’s why we have focused our efforts on understanding community needs, through research, conversations, analytics and listening to individual stories and transportation experiences. Civic leaders, engineers, designers, technologists, community organizers and residents are coming together to bring their unique experiences, expertise and perspectives to co-design mobility pilots. Open to anyone over the age of 18 with a good idea2, the City of Tomorrow Challenge is offering up to $100,000 in funding to pilot the winning idea.


This ambitious new program starts with three cities: Grand Rapids, Michigan; Miami, Florida; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In each of these inaugural cities, there are unique issues that have been identified through analytics and ethnographic research. Through the City of Tomorrow Challenge, Ford is facilitating online and offline conversations to address these pressing issues as well as to inform future transportation planning.


Grand Rapids


This growing West Michigan city is experiencing one of the biggest population booms in the region. The growth is something that is beginning to strain the transit system, which can leave some people without access to reliable mobility.


“As our city grows, we want to ensure we are working with our community to make getting around Grand Rapids easier,” said Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. “We also want to strengthen confidence in our existing transportation systems. We have joined the City of Tomorrow Challenge because we believe Grand Rapids is a place where innovative ideas can improve mobility in our city.”


Interested in the Grand Rapids City of Tomorrow Challenge? Get involved here!




In a city already renowned for its lengthy average commute times, the congestion is further fueled by the fact that the city’s population has increased almost 1 percent each year for the past eight years3. That’s not a recipe for success in a place where traffic is consistently among the largest civic complaints.


“Miami-Dade has some of the longest commuting times in the United States, so we want to help our residents by making it easier to get the information they need to plan their commutes – and build their confidence in all of the options available to them,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez. “We have joined the City of Tomorrow Challenge because we believe we can strengthen our approach to new mobility by collaborating on new ideas that address our most pressing transportation problems. Great ideas can come from anyone – no matter if they’re college students, business professionals or commercial drivers.”


Want to help the Miami-Dade gridlock? Get involved here!




The Steel City, known for its industrial roots and hardworking residents, is in the middle of a transition. As Pittsburgh develops into a more vibrant, green and sustainable city, the issue of transportation has taken center stage.


"Pittsburgh is at the precipice of change and we need to make sure the bright future we see is one where everyone can thrive,” said Karina Ricks, the city’s first director of the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure. “The City of Tomorrow Challenge will put deep analytical power and industry insight in service of the people of Pittsburgh, bringing forward innovative real-world solutions to today's mobility challenges that help us achieve an inclusive tomorrow."


Want to make an impact on Pittsburgh’s mobility problems? Get involved here!


Don’t know how or where to contribute? Check out the Ford City of Tomorrow Challenge website to see some of the hundreds of experiences and ideas that have been submitted so far.


And if you want to learn more about our vision for the future of urban mobility, be sure to check out “Big Plans for Big Cities” from Ford Corporate Futurist Sheryl Connelly!



1 United Nation’s World Urbanization Projects, 2014.

2 No purchase or payment necessary. Must be over 18 years of age. Subject to official rules, click here.

3 Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization.

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