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Audi Urban Future Awards

Jose Castillo | Design Critic in Urban Planning and Design, GSD

Gabriella Gomez-Mont | Director of Laboratorio para la Ciudad, GDF


22 million people, nine million vehicles and a completely inadequate road network: Mexico

City is the world’s most daunting metropolis for commuters. 265,000 of them spend three hours each day traveling to and from their place of work in the Santa Fe business district.

By way of comparison: In 1904 trams moved through the city at 10 km/h, and today commuters progress at an average of less than 6 km/h during rush hour.

The team around Harvard professor Jose Castillo places its faith in comprehensive and upto the-minute traffic data for solving the problem of permanent congestion. By means of crowd-sourcing techniques the team aims to create an open mobility network of the city government, companies and residents. Commuters take an active role as data donors and are part of the solution. Their data, made anonymous, are the basis for well-founded traffic decisions. Companies, mobility providers and municipal institutions add to the data base.

The result is an operating system for urban mobility that provides information in real time about weak points in the traffic network and thus makes solutions possible. It is based on data from city departments, private companies, and Twitter or Foursquare. By this means the traffic situation in Mexico City can be assessed as a whole. The first version of the data platform went online in September 2014. Commuters can share their own mobility behavior and donate data on their movements via a website and an app.

Alongside Audi, even in this first phase companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Uber, Yaxi and HP encouraged their employees to take part in the program. The information from the public data pool helps Audi and the city government to understand which technologies can optimize the flow of traffic (e.g. car-to-X technologies like Ampel Info Online). And which services help people to save time on their way to work? When this time is added up, commuters in Mexico City spend a whole month per year stuck in hold-ups. If traffic flows more efficiently one day, people will not only regain flexibility; fewer cars on the roads will also mean more space for the city and a better quality of life for everyone.

“ Our city needs an operating system to help people make informed decisions about their mobility choices and to support public officials and policy makers in finding long-term solutions for the megacity. Our proposal works in real time and is extremely low-cost.”

Jose Castillo

Concept video: An operating system for the city 

Audi Urban Future Award Ceremony 2014 – Concept Presentation