Communities / Environment / Pitches / Startups / Technology

Meet the civic tech-focused winners of the second annual Smart City Challenge

Nine finalists competed for a cash prize of $10,000 and the opportunity to participate in pilot programs for their proposal.

Smart cities are the future. (Photo by Flickr user Iñaki Pérez de Albéniz)
Companies using novel tech solutions to address such concerns as climate change, gun violence and traffic fatalities were recently named winners of the second Smart City Challenge.

The winners were selected by Smart City Works, the nonprofit and accelerator behind the near-eponymous hybrid competition. Individuals and teams took part in the six-week competition, which focuses on innovation in the DMV area. Participants developed solutions for housing, transportation, health, water, food systems, education, broadband, infrastructure, energy, public safety and other civic and social issues. Nine finalists last week competed in a pitch event to determine the winners in a multitude of categories. Smart City Works co-organized the event and competition with regional institutions Refraction, Virginia Tech, Fairfax County, Girls in Tech DC and Universities at Shady Grove.

Following the program, the finalists each created a four-minute presentation to pitch to the judges. Arlington County Vice Chair Christian Dorsey, Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, Fairfax City Mayor David Meyer, Cox VP Kathryn Falk, Opus8 CEO (and 2022 RealLIST Connector) Tien Wong and Citrine Angels’s cofounder Aurelia Flores participated as judges and speakers.

Finalists competed for a $10,000 cash prize, as well as the opportunity to participate in pilot programs for their technology or proposal with the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation and Fairfax County.

Despite the competition’s regional focus, finalists did not have to be located in or have founders from the DMV. Judges looked at the solution’s impact on the DC region, its ability to be implemented (overall and in the near term), how easily it could be replicated or scaled, its impact on inequities and its ability to address social issues.

Here are the competition winners:

  • Databuoy: The McLean, Virginia company created a sensor network to monitor the location of gunfire in mass shootings.
  • Passage Safety: This DC company created an updated version of automated traffic enforcement technology to help lower traffic fatalities among pedestrians and cyclists.
  • RentCheck: Founders from New Orleans, Louisiana created property management software for self-guided inspections.
  • Pupils to Parklets: This DC-area student team proposed an initiative to allow students to design and create parklets, or small parks created through sidewalk extensions.
  • Localized Flood Hazard Alert System: Alexandria, Virginia student Vinay Ayala created a low-cost, internet-of-things-based alert system for flooding and unsafe roads.

These companies won the Fairfax County Pilot Award:

  • Asoleyo: The Herndon, Virginia startup is creating more visually attractive solar panels.
  • Tu Consejería: This Guatemalan company created a web-based app that provides access to psychological support for both Spanish- and English-speaking users.
  • Pupils to Parklets

And these companies won the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation Pilot Award:

  • FloodMapp: The Australian company created a live flood-mapping data solution via AI, machine learning and data analytics.
  • DataBuoy
  • Localized Flood Hazard Alert System

Finalist Haven Analytics was selected as the People’s Choice Award winner, while Tu Consejería also took home the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia Mental Health and Smart City Works Actuator awards.


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