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9 of the 37 entries for the Apps for Vehicles competition.

9 of the 37 entries for the Apps for Vehicles competition.

The Open Data Initiative reached another milestone last week with the completion of the first phase of the Apps for Vehicles Challenge. This incentive-based competition seeks to improve safety and fuel efficiency through data innovation. Thirty-seven entries were submitted to the Challenge’s judges, which are all publically viewable on the competition website.

The submitted ideas represent an inspiring range of American innovation and ingenuity. They are also spread among a wide spectrum of styles, customer groups and technical approaches. For example, some contestants proposed mobile applications that can be downloaded onto mainstream smart-phones and that use a vehicle’s onboard digital data system to find optimal routes or make recommendations on driving behaviors. Other contestants proposed operating systems that would serve as a host platform for future application development. Think of this approach as creating a Microsoft Windows instead of Microsoft Excel. The contestants represent everyone from student teams to established companies. There are also submissions that leverage emerging social behavior trends like “gamification” -- or consumer games that incentivize beneficial behaviors -- as well as others that integrate with outside systems like roof-mounted solar energy systems.

Choosing the best submissions will be a tough job for the judges  But the assembled experts represent some of the most experienced minds in the business. The technical experts and celebrities include (in alphabetical order):

  • Rachel Barge, Partner and Head of Communications, Greenstart
  • Blake Burris, Founder, CleanWeb
  • Pat Davis, Director, Vehicle Technologies Office, Department of Energy
  • David Green, Center for Transportation Analysis, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Charlie Hale, Google Maps & Google X
  • Pat Kennedy, CEO, OSISoft
  • Tim Mellon, Director, Government Affairs, SAE International
  • Christopher Monk, Chief, Human Factors/Engineering Integration Division, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Venkatesh Prasad, Senior Technical Leader, Open Innovation | Member, Ford Technology Advisory Board
  • Peggy Smedley, President & Editorial Director, Connected World Magazine. The Peggy Smedley Show.
  • Jo Strang, Associate Administrator, Safety Data Initiative, Department of Transportation

The winners of the first phase of the Apps for Vehicles Challenge will be announced on Feb. 1. Those semi-finalists will receive a small monetary award to help with the development of their final products and also receive extraordinary access to relevant judges on how to position their products so that they can transform the transportation sector for the better.

The final products need to be submitted by March 15, and the competition winners will be announced on April 1.

Those that are interested in learning more about the Apps for Vehicles Challenge as it progresses can follow the competition.