Smart City Challenge Finalists

Congratulations to the Smart City Challenge finalists! Learn more about them from their executive summaries below.

Please join us for the Smart City Challenge Finale and Awards Event next Thursday (2/25 @ 6-8:30pm ET) to watch 11 finalists pitch live to win $350K+ in cash/in-kind prizes, plus pilot opportunities with Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax, participation in the Smart City Works accelerator, free membership at Refraction, and more!  

We have a great lineup of speakers/judges like US Senator Mark Warner, Dominion CEO Robert Blue, Fairfax County Chairman Jeff McKay, Clark Construction CFO Sameer Bhargava, DC CTO Lindsey Parker, and Cox VP Kathryn Falk.

All are welcome to join the Challenge Finale by registering here.  

Autonomous Incident Response System

Executive Summary
We will improve public safety response times, reduce use of force, and reduce officer and suspect casualties by providing earlier, advanced incident intelligence to responding public safety officers using drones, automation, and autonomy.
Minutes can be the difference between life and death. Our solution buys time for responding officers by getting “eyes on site” in advance of the arrival of the responding unit, feeding intelligence to the unit en route so that officers can plan en route, change approach, ask for additional resources, and change methods as needed. Capt Worcester, Stafford Sheriff’s Department, stated:
• The rapid response is a benefit because suspects are already fleeing or taking action as soon as the 911 call happens – “time is of the essence and seconds matter”
• This allows for better, faster intelligence which means public safety can respond more creatively and effectively – this will save lives of both officers and suspects
Using the geolocation functions of the municipal 911 system, we will push information through the Virginia Flight Information Exchange to an ATA system that automatically generates a Risk Based Trajectory for the Airgility autonomous drone. The Airgility drone deploys autonomously to the site and feeds intelligence to responding units within minutes.

                                    Battery + Fuel Cell

Executive Summary
Power outages threaten the public safety. Unfortunately, the growth of renewable energy and the severity of natural disasters makes the grid more vulnerable. ‘Urban Resiliency Centers’ provide nearby residents a place to seek refuge during a power outage. The center allows residents to charge cell phones, refrigerate medications, seek relief from the weather, and keep electrically powered medical equipment operational. However, current solutions for Urban Resiliency Centers are too expensive, take up too much space, violate zoning restrictions, and have limited run time.
CurvEnergy and Independence Hydrogen jointly propose a Battery + Hydrogen Fuel Cell pilot for an Urban Resiliency Center. CurvEnergy’s already-piloted software provides real-time Distributed Energy Resource (DER) management, grid stabilization services and a source of green revenue generation. Independence Hydrogen’s hydrogen fuel cell services provides the muscle during an extended power outage. Instead of hours of back-up power, the fuel cell provides the center with days of back-up power. Further, the fuel cell can also be refueled on-site during an extended emergency.
The proposed project is scalable and replicable for other Smart City solutions, such as critical infrastructure, buildings, and government installations.


Executive Summary
Gun violence is a leading cause of death in the US and is an ever-growing concern for cities. The latest Shotpoint acoustic gunfire localization system built by Databuoy Corporation can help to mitigate this problem. Shotpoint works indoors and outdoors with sensors mounted to walls or utility poles that may also be integrated into smart lighting. Shotpoint is extremely accurate, reliable and has been deployed in a number of US cities. It is fully automated and integrates with 3rd party systems including a range of video surveillance systems providing instant shot reporting to responders with attached imagery from the exact moments of the shot, so the shooter identity and surrounding circumstances can be confirmed.
Databuoy’s Smart City Challenge proposal is to connect Shotpoint shooter localization with drones. A drone can travel quickly using a direct path to the location, so the time to be on scene can be much quicker. Once a drone arrives, “eyes on the suspect” is maintained so law enforcement can monitor the suspect before they arrive on scene. Combining Shotpoint with autonomous systems has the potential for decreasing response time and mitigating more gunfire incidents, resulting in safer environments.


Executive Summary
• Every year, there are nearly 200,000 reported residential fires, killing or injuring thousands with restoration costs in the billions.
• 60% of these start on the stovetop.
• Kitchen fires do not discriminate by race, age or socio-economic class, between affordable housing or $1 million condo.
FireBot is the world’s first residential, self-activating fire suppression system that mounts easily above the stovetop. Once it detects a sustained fire, FireBot releases a non-toxic suppressant liquid that can effectively suppress 3 inches of burning grease within seconds, doing what a fire extinguisher does: automatically. At the low unit price of $170, the cost of installing FireBot in a large multi-unit dwelling is cheaper than the insurance deductibles and other repairs a building owner could face from a fire.
With 319,000 apartments in the District of Columbia, chances of a fire incident are high, damages enormous. The DC Fire Department alone responds to more than 35,000 fire/emergency calls each year. At $2,500 per call, this represents a substantial portion of the DCFD budget.
FireBot could ultimately help make a positive impact for both the housing and public safety sectors in our area.


Executive Summary
Under the Hospital Admissions Reduction Program (HRRP), an average hospital could save between $10k-50k for EACH avoided patient readmission. Frailty quantification via gait analysis is a promising strategy to managing patient risks proactively, in a patient-centric manner, thus reducing the probability of complications and readmissions. However, there is currently no established technology for quantifying frailty in a hospital setting. In recent research, we’ve discovered that floor-mounted / accelerometers can be used to monitor human gait. Each footstep induces vibrations that can be analyzed to extract key features like gait speed, stride length variability, and stepping force. Our idea is a simple augmentation of the physical space which will screen patients as they present for treatment or surgery: no wearables and no cameras. We thus avoid important equity, privacy, utility and practicality concerns associated with these methods. Using off-the-shelf components, we can manufacture one system for under $1,000. By selling a basic package at $10,000, not only would this product make ten times the profit, but hospitals would receive a return on investment after just ONE additional avoided readmission. Our minimum viable product is currently being finalized and will be applied to clinical trials in a major New York Hospital this year.


Executive Summary
KnishKits is a decentralized platform for launching hyperlocal, sustainable marketplaces, designed to keep online spending equitable – that is, benefiting local communities by unlocking new revenue streams, creating new jobs – especially for at-risk groups – and maximizing the amount of money circulating in the local economy, thereby helping everyone. Because KnishKits is not a middleman eating away at stores’ profits, communities have the resources at their disposal to fund impactful initiatives for their residents using money that would have gone to commissions.
KnishKits can be easily leveraged by local chambers of commerce, business collectives, HOAs, etc. By deploying their own federated instances, branded and tailored specifically to their local needs and impact requirements, communities maintain an equitable exchange of value without involving e-commerce giants and draining money away from the neighborhood economy.
KnishKits is developed by WishKnish Corp., a Fairfax County woman-owned blockchain technology company founded in 2016. You can learn more about WishKnish at

Smart City Trails

Executive Summary
Smart City Trails is a software solution for crowdsourcing trail mapping that empowers cities to develop their trail systems faster, drive walkability, and increase citizen participation in the outdoors.
How do we help local governments get more people walking in the trails that they already have? Research shows that a green environment improves mood, focus, and self-esteem. The CDC recommends regular exercise to ease mental stress, especially during this pandemic. However, many underserved neighborhoods do not have easy access to parks or recreational facilities. The primary obstacle to trail usage and trail planning is a lack of good trail and trail utilization data.
Smart City Trails empowers local governments to crowdsource the creation of a comprehensive trail system map that can be incorporated into city planning tools, published to residents and get integrated into popular fitness apps. This platform uses key innovations in GIS technology, machine learning and open data protocols to track trail utilization. Our proposed work will help Northern Virginia move faster towards meeting nationwide goals to provide safe, fair, and equitable access to green space for everyone. We want a local government partner to pilot a crowdsourced trail map and usage tracker powered by Smart City Trails.


Executive Summary
TRAXyL is redefining the way communication networks are designed and will significantly help close the digital divide. The ability to connect to high-speed broadband provides people with equal access to information – offering more choices, improved lifestyles, and fair opportunity. This is why TRAXyL developed FiberTRAX, a new and simple way to install high-speed data links in hard-to-reach areas, by essentially “painting” optical fiber onto hard surfaces. FiberTRAX utilizes existing pavement like roads, paths, and sidewalks to efficiently extend high-speed broadband into all communities, without the need to trench cables underground or string along utility poles. FiberTRAX seamlessly integrates with conventional methods and can be installed at rates up to 1,000 feet per hour. TRAXyL provides the equipment, training, and materials to contractors, so they can install for the end-user. FiberTRAX is the only on-demand solution for fiberoptic cable installation and provides installers a new technique to help make access to information simple and efficient for everyone.
Executive Summary
In the United States, approximately two million people suffer from low vision. When taking into account the global population, that number jumps to approximately 285 million people who suffer from vision impairment. And the numbers keep rising due to an aging population. The simple act of crossing the street, which most of us take for granted, can be difficult at best for people with low vision. The world around them is designed for the sighted, with visual references the standard. This creates an invisible barrier. Via is designed for people who are diagnosed with vision loss. While there will be value for people who are fully blind, users who have not completely lost their vision will benefit the most. This product will benefit people who have been born with low-vision ailments or who become low-vision later in life. Via is helpful regardless if a person’s condition is temporary or permanent.
Our Virtual Intelligent Assistant (VIA) is an AI-enabled assistant designed for users who are diagnosed with low-vision. The assistant consists of an augmented reality headset, smartphone application, beacon device, and supported by the cloud to allow users to navigate cities independently.
With VIA, we aim to make the invisible, visible.


(student team)

Executive Summary
We are Haven, a data analytics consultancy on a mission to solve health challenges and ensure equity in health outcomes. We are developing an innovative methodology that combines geospatial analysis and wastewater-based epidemiology to improve nutrition and alleviate food insecurity in urban environments.
11% of D.C. households are in food deserts where people struggle to find healthy foods, and the city anticipates spending $3.8B each year on medical costs associated with preventable, nutrition related chronic diseases. Using our data insights, we will develop an optimization strategy to improve the programs that DC is currently using to combat food insecurity.
Key policymakers at the Office of Urban Agriculture and the DC Food Policy Council have already indicated interest in or system and support for a workable solution. We will work closely with these two groups to accomplish the goals outlined in “Sustainable DC 2.0” by increasing the impact of existing urban agriculture programs and by optimizing the siting of new farms.
We will seek sustainable funding streams through long-term corporate relationships and national or local government contracts for outsourced community health analysis. To develop and implement our wastewater analysis system, we will partner with universities and Water-and-Sewage Authorities like DC Water.

Mobility Orb

(student team)

Executive Summary
Due to the COVID epidemic, companies are downsizing their office footprints and expectations are that partially working from home will be the new normal. This and other changes the pandemic brought along will profoundly alter our travel and commute behaviors. The question becomes how human mobility might look like in the future, given not only evolving technology but also our rapidly changing habits and behavior.
Mobility Orb will consider the characteristics and spatial distribution of the population in combination with existing and emerging transportation infrastructure and solutions (road network, public transportation, micro-mobility solutions) and changes in work patterns to model urban mobility in the greater DC metro area. Using agent-based simulation we can efficiently capture the interactions between agents(people) and transportation systems to test different post-COVID scenarios based on data collected during the pandemic.
Mobility Orb hopes to serve local governments/city planners when it comes to gauging future investments into transportation infrastructure and guiding mobility solutions. The ultimate goal is to help the city manage the mobility ecosystem and to provide a smarter, more accessible, convenient, and more efficient transportation system for everyone.