Skip navigation

Denver — A Smart City

From late 2015 through June 2016, Denver participated in the Smart City Challenge grant competition offered by the U.S. Department of Transportation and was selected as one of seven finalists from the 78 cities that applied.

In June 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the City of Columbus, Ohio, won the Smart City Challenge funding and, while Denver was disappointed it did not receive the funding, our work created a clear roadmap that will help us pursue our vision to build a better city for all. 

Increased mobility freedom through improved, accessible choices is a longstanding goal for Denver and the Smart City Challenge accelerated our efforts to achieve it. The Challenge fostered national competitiveness among cities that spurred an unprecedented level of collaboration between city, public, private, non-profit and community stakeholders to develop truly innovative, effective, and meaningful solutions to Denver’s mobility challenges. The Challenge also was an opportunity to dream big – to think above and beyond normal budget constraints, knowledge barriers, and technological hurdles to identify a concrete path forward with a focus on innovative technologies, vehicle electrification and the need to better connect lower-income neighborhoods. Now that we have a plan in hand, along with the industry and community partnerships, we are working hard to identify 2017 budget priorities and outside funding opportunities that will allow us to turn the plan into action.

Denver thanks the industry and community partners that contributed to the Smart City proposal and looks forward to each next step towards turning our vision into reality. 

Read Denver’s final Smart City Challenge submittal (May 2016) to learn more about our vision.

Denver's Smart City Challenge Video, June 2016

Denver's Proposal

Read Denver's application to the
USDOT Smart City Challenge

Phase 2 - Final Application — May 2016

Grant Application — February 2016


Denver’s Smart City Challenge Proposal

Denver’s proposal aimed to overcome challenges caused by rapid population growth, increased traffic congestion, increasing numbers of serious crashes, environmental impacts, and widening income, housing and education gaps. A significant portion of the programs and demonstration projects are aimed specifically at delivering mobility freedom and better connections to opportunities for the 200,000 people living in 22 of Denver’s poorest neighborhoods in West, North and Northeast Denver.

Our Smart City proposal was composed of four integrated components with a dozen distinct projects to:

  • Create a powerful, intelligent data engine
  • Provide more and better mobility options to all residents
  • Electrify transportation throughout Denver
  • Lead to intelligent, connected and ultimately automated vehicles in Denver

The total value of Denver’s proposal exceeded $84 million. 

Enterprise Data Management (EDM) Ecosystem

This living, intelligent data engine will serve as a national model for gathering disparate data sets, incorporating new data from thousands of sources and providing a constant data feedback loop that continuously improves our understanding of where, when, how and why people are going places – so that ultimately we can improve their travel options and experiences. This engine will power our entire proposal.

MODE iconMobility on Demand Enterprise (MODE)

This component takes the data and makes it available in a universal mobility marketplace. 

This platform will allow us to:

  • Create a single smart-phone app that will include offerings from all public and private transportation service providers in Denver, including RTD, B-Cycle, Uber, Lyft, taxis, Car2Go and more. This will be a vastly improved and expanded version of the Go Denver app we launched in February with Xerox. Users will be able to search for trip information and pay for all modes using this one convenient app.
  • An expanded version of the existing “My Denver Card.” This smart card could be loaded with transportation “credits, giving users – children and adults alike -- without smart phones access to the same mobility options and services as those with a smart phone.
  • Install 50 sidewalk kiosks citywide – including 35 in underserved communities in West, North and Northeast Denver – that will provide the same kind of mobility information directly into neighborhoods. These kiosks will also serve as Wi-Fi hotspots and offer charging capabilities for phones.
  • Partner with local retailers so that low-income users without credit cards, bank accounts or smart phones can pay cash for mobility services at the cash register.
  • Install 10 B-Cycle bike-sharing stations in underserved neighborhoods.
  • Deploy a first-mile/last-mile subsidy pilot program to entice rideshare drivers into underserved areas of opportunity. We will partner with Lyft to offer drivers guaranteed fares and price discounts to passengers for trips that begin or end at a transit stop.

electrification iconTransportation Electrification

This component focuses on the electrification of City, transit and other commercial vehicle fleets; incentivizing greater deployment of electric vehicles for personal use; installing additional charging stations; and partnering with Xcel Energy to further de-carbonize the grid. We will:

  • Partner with RTD to buy nine electric buses that will run exclusively on Colfax Avenue, serving more than 10,000 passengers a day.
  • Purchase 103 electric vehicles for the City fleet, and ensure that half of all light-duty City fleet purchases are electric by 2020.
  • Partner with Transdev, owner of Denver’s largest taxi fleet, and Evercar to deploy dozens of electric taxis and TNC vehicles on Denver’s streets.
  • Install 387 electric vehicle charging stations citywide, including fast-charging stations, at large multi-unit housing developments, big employers and major business centers.
  • Launch an aggressive public outreach campaign to double the number of electric vehicle purchases, from an expected 15,000 to 30,000, over the next three years.

connected vehicle iconIntelligent Vehicles

This component will usher in a new era of transformational technologies that will connect vehicles to each other, traffic signals and other infrastructure, and ultimately will lead to driverless cars. This component will:

  • Establish the nation’s first high-tech freight efficiency corridor in North Denver – encompassing I-70, I-76 and I-25 – using dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) technology that will provide travel time reliability for trucks and keep haulers out of neighborhoods. This will be crucial when the Central I-70 improvement project is underway.
  • Deploy DSRC and other advanced and dynamic traffic-signal technologies to improve traffic flow on two of Denver’s most congested arterials, Colorado Boulevard and Hampden Avenue.
Community Feedback

Community engagement is key to developing a Smart City. Share your ideas with the Denver Smart Cities Team on how we can work together to move our city forward!

2020 Sustainability
Vision Zero

The city's commitment to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries on Denver’s roadways

See reports and action plans and share your feedback

Open Data Catalog

Making city government accessible through open access to data