$15,000 awarded to three finalists of the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge

Purdue University engineering students Sid Gaur, Ben Murray and Atharva Rao examine equipment while discussing their entry into the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge. They are one of three teams that received $5,000 for being named finalists to the contest. (Purdue Research Foundation photo/Steve Martin)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Organizers of the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge have awarded $15,000 to build new data-driven tools that increase public safety. Winning teams include a Virginia-based startup and two teams of engineering students from Purdue University. The winning teams and project concepts are:

The winning teams proposed IoT solutions or software applications to improve safety for vulnerable road users who navigate high-traffic corridors and intersections during major seasonal events in the city. Several teams offered many highly innovative proposals, but the three finalists selected stood out for their solutions’ potential impact, viability, scalability and sustainability, organizers said.

“One of the most incredible benefits of being a college community is the partnership between the university and the city,” West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis said. “We in the city of West Lafayette have the opportunity to serve as a living laboratory by testing new technologies and ideas to make our community safe for visitors and citizens alike. We are very excited about the ideas that the three finalists have developed, and we look forward to seeing these ideas put to practice.”

During this phase, each team will receive $5,000 in financial support, gain access to historical datasets and real-time data generated by West Lafayette’s network of Miovision street cameras and sensors, and be provided working and project space at the Convergence Center’s Innovation Lab at Discovery Park District at Purdue. In addition, advisors from leading technology companies working with IoT, 5G and data analytics – including AT&T, Cisco, Ericsson, Tilson and the Indiana 5GZone – will assist teams with coaching and fine-tuning their concepts and prototypes.

Last summer, the Innovation Partners Institute organized the WL Smart City Challenge with funding from Christian Kanady START Coalition to leverage the ingenuity of students and small businesses in solving a public safety concern in West Lafayette. The city’s population nearly doubles when students return to campus, and the roads of Discovery Park become high-trafficked areas during certain events such as football games, concerts and festivals. The solutions identified through this competition will help to improve public safety and traffic flow for residents and visitors.

“It’s exciting to provide a showcase for this immense level of creativity,” Kanady said. “When we set our best and brightest minds on a problem and provide them with the proper resources to develop solutions, it’s amazing what can happen. We all go farther and faster when we invest back into local communities.”

Mung Chiang, executive vice president for strategic initiatives at Purdue University and the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering, said, “It is exciting to see two student teams from Purdue’s Engineering 131 selected as finalists in this unique town-gown collaboration. This example of the lab to life model being built in the Discovery Park District at Purdue will turn the district into the premier site for deploying the latest innovations to actual use.”

In May, the teams will showcase their prototypes. The winning team will receive an additional $10,000 to pilot its solution on West Lafayette roadways from May to December 2022. Register online for the event or to see more details about the competition.