Crowd source-modeled competition spotlights infrastructure needs

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Judging criteria and other information can be found at the Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge website.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ three-phase Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge will award a total of $150,000 in prizes for innovative ideas to overhaul the crumbling infrastructure that Americans rely upon to move people, materials, products, services and information. Open to everyone everywhere, the competition leverages the HeroX crowd sourcing model designed to spur radical business, technological and social innovation benefiting local and global communities; inspire new industries; and, catalyze markets.

“The United States is the strongest and largest economy in the world and yet the overall quality of our infrastructure is falling dramatically behind global competitors,” says AEM President Dennis Slater. “Members thought it was time to break the cycle of patchwork fixes and deferred maintenance and lead the conversation in a different direction. We need to engage innovators who we haven’t heard from before and who have the ability to imagine how people, freight, energy and information will move in the country of tomorrow—even as far out as the year 2050.”

“[The model] was founded on our conviction that the crowd—everyday people with great ideas—can and will solve pressing problems,” adds HeroX CEO Christian Cotichini. “The Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge moves the U.S. infrastructure conversation beyond traditional political channels and gives everyone affected by these issues a chance to voice their opinions and find solutions.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave the U.S. a combined grade of D+ for the condition of its infrastructure. Among examples for why rebuilding the country’s infrastructure is such a critical issue, the report cites the nation’s 70,000 (one in nine) structurally-deficient bridges; the fact that 42 percent of America’s major urban highways remain congested, costing the economy an estimated $101 billion in wasted time and fuel annually; and, the estimated 240,000 water main breaks recorded annually.

Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge finalists and winners will be determined by a judging panel and crowd voting over the three phases:

“Complain”: Engage the public to describe the biggest infrastructure challenge facing their community; total prize, $5,000 (10 finalists receive $250; overall winner receives $2,500); entry deadline, March 15;

“Dream”: Seek to solicit new thinking and solutions, especially from nonexperts; total prize, $45,000 (five winners receive $9,000 each); entry deadline, May 31; and,

“Build”: Takes the second phase a step farther and solicits plans to implement solutions on a larger scale; total prize, $100,000 (winner take all); entry deadline forthcoming.