IBM: give us one great idea

IBM is partnering with some other folks to find the best new idea for improving the world's rail transit. The congestion problem is only getting worse as urban populations grow: In 1950 there were 8 global mega-cities (those with populations of five million or more).

IBM is partnering with some other folks to find the best new idea for improving the world's rail transit. The congestion problem is only getting worse as urban populations grow: In 1950 there were 8 global mega-cities (those with populations of five million or more). In 2001, that number was 41. In 2010, there'll be 59 mega-cities, 48 of them in less developed countries. By 2050, 70 percent of people will be living in cities.

Some governments around the world are investing in new, smart transportation systems. But we can't simply rely on government and big businesses to come up with all of the solutions. IBM wants the thoughts from the average commuter stuck in hours of traffic to provide input too.

So the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), in partnership with IBM and Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations, has launched a global challenge to identify innovative ideas for combating transportation congestion. The ITS Congestion Challenge is a global competition to identify the best and most creative ideas to effectively reduce congestion and its impacts on the economy, environment, and quality of life.

This challenge, which started a month ago and is now narrowed down to 9 finalists, is open to entrepreneurs, commuters, transportation experts, researchers, universities, students, scholars, scientists and citizens from all fields around the globe. The winner will be chosen by a global community and announced during the 16th World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems in Stockholm, Sweden, September 21 - 25. Winner gets $50,000 USD, as well as development and implementation support to pursue turning the ideas into real-world solutions.

Some of the finalists: --One solution collects data about real-world performance to continuously measure progress and provide meaningful feedback to further improve efficiency and safety. Fleet managers and drivers can see the results of their eco-driving training in their fuel consumption and safety incident records, identify drivers or equipment that need improvement, and provide continuing education materials to maintain and improve performance over time. --A website to help individuals plan their commute based on how they choose to travel - whether its via carpool, vanpool, transit, bike, or walk. The site enables people to find matches within all your networks including employer, residential community, friends and more, in an effort to reduce traffic congestion. --A new system that allows cars to communicate with the road, get real time traffic data, send distress signals to emergency services and even report low engine oil levels when stopping at a gas station. --A solution that makes better use of how travel lanes are managed, including the use of the shoulder during peak travel times. Here's the challenge website. Here's a video on the challenge.