USDOT Data Challenge

DOT Data Innovation Challenge

Yesterday, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the US Department of Transportation Data Innovation Challenge on Fast Lane, DOT’s official blog.

You’ve seen the apps. The commuter at the bus stop is using one. The father shopping for a safe car is using one. The student booking spring break bus travel is using one. I’m not talking about Plants vs. Zombies or Candy Crush 2; I’m talking about the apps that put useful transportation information –real-time transit arrivals, 5-star car safety ratings, motorcoach safety records– in the palms of our hands.

Although good transportation apps have been created, we also know that a nation like ours can do more.

That’s why, today, we’re launching our Data Innovation Challenge.

Here at DOT, we think it’s time to take transportation data to the next level, and we need your help to do it. If you have an idea for an innovative tool to help meet transportation challenges, this is your opportunity. If you’re ready to revolutionize our transportation system, this is your opportunity. From now until April 30, it’s time to show us what you can do!

We’ll be submitting the Transportation Application Platform (TAP), our flagship application for state and regional transit authorities to be more competitive for funding and more effective with their existing funds across finance and operations.  Wanted to put this out for everyone else working on interesting transportation solutions.

Good luck with your entries!

It’s all part of a balanced and responsible approach to improving our transportation system. Yes, we need to continue investing in infrastructure, but we also need to make better use of the resources we already have, and one of the most valuable resources we have is data.

Over the last few years, there has been a tremendous change in government at all levels–rather than sitting on their datasets, from city to county to state and across the agencies that make up our federal government, organizations are making their data publicly available in formats that make it easier for innovators to convert that data into information and useful tools for the public, urban planners, policymakers, journalists, and others.

Even with thousands of datasets open to the public, we still need innovators like you with the vision to develop tools that help people use data to make decisions.

What kinds of decisions are we talking about? For DOT’s Data Innovation Challenge, we’re specifically looking at three categories:

  • Safety: how can we address safety concerns and challenges? What communities have the safest roads and transit, and why?
  • Transportation Access: how can planners improve the way transportation connects people to jobs, school, housing, and community resources?
  • Traffic Management and Congestion: how can we better understand and reduce traffic, congestion, and emissions?

A trove of data is out there, free for public use, and our challenge website can get you pointed in the right direction. All it takes now is a little creativity and ingenuity on your part. So, if you can think up an idea or two for web-based tools, data visualizations, mobile apps, or other innovative technologies to address these categories, this challenge is for you.

Even if you don’t know how to build an app, you probably know what works for you. If you share your favorite transportation apps with us, then others will be able to learn about them as well. All you have to do is add a comment to this blog post, write on our Facebook wall using #dotdatachallenge, or send a tweet with that hashtag.

Collage of several travel apps

And since spring break is coming up, and many college students, younger students, and their parents will be traveling soon, let’s start by hitting us with your favorite travel apps. Next month, we’ll follow up with a different category.

Learn more about the challenge at! And don’t forget to share your favorite travel apps with us by commenting below or using social media with the #dotdatachallenge hashtag.