TED Award Goes to The City 2.0

TED, short for: technology, entertainment, design, is a non-profit organization devoted to spreading ideas that will change the world. Through two annual conferences — in Long Beach, Calif., and Edinburgh, UK — and extensive online resources, the best ideas from these three worlds are propagated.

A TED prize of $100,000 is awarded annually to an exceptional individual, along with the opportunity to promote his or her ideas. This year for the first time, the prize was awarded to an idea rather than to an individual. The prize went to The City 2.0.

“… The future of cities is such a significant issue, with so many individuals, organizations and companies doing spectacular work, which is why the TED Prize chose not to single out one individual, but honor the idea itself.”

As the 2012 TED prize winner, The City 2.0 is the basis for awarding 10 $10,000 grants for ideas that transform cities.

Navigating any large city has its challenges, as a pedestrian, a driver or via transit. Transit has its own special tests of determination, including schedules, maps, stations and all the minor matters that can dissuade people from using public transportation. Today’s new transit apps — as useful and impressive as they are — only provide discrete bands of information.

Now imagine an app that can act as your personal concierge for all elements of your transit trip, an app packed with practical notifications to help you avoid annoyances and alert you to every convenience and amenity available. For city dwellers and road warriors alike, that sounds like an idea worthy of a prize.

George Aye and Sara Cantor, the husband and wife founders of Greater Good Studio in Chicago, were recently awarded one of the 10 prizes for their Designing Chicago app now under development. Using self-nominated “Urban Agents” to crowd source ideas and bring multiple perspectives into the app, they plan to “... create what will be ultimately the mother of all transit apps,” according to Cantor.

By providing real-time information very specific to a traveler’s needs, the app will personalize the data for each user. Users will be able to find and pay for parking, bike and car shares, and so much more. According to The City 2.0: “Need to pick up a cup of coffee on the way to a meeting? Work that into your transit plan. Forgot the bus might be crowded because of the baseball game? The app will remind you of that, too. Need to plan elevator and/or escalator routes because you’re stuck with a big stroller? No problem.”

You don’t need to live in or visit Chicago to benefit from the Designing Chicago app. The ideas generated will find their way to other cities thanks to TED’s mission to spread “stories that inspire, projects that transform.” I’m happy to pass along this story; you take it from here.

More information on this and other The City 2.0 projects are available at www.thecity2.0.org.