AT&T Is Offering $50K To Engineers To Make New York City Safer For Pedestrians

While smartphones make a whole lot of things in our lives easier, the instant access to information and constant notifications about what our friends are up to tends to be rather distracting as we go about our day.

AT&T thinks that tendency might be contributing to an unfortunate statistic: in New York City, 14,845 crashes between cars and pedestrians were recorded in 2013, a 35% increase from 2012.

In an effort to stymie that trend, AT&T and ChallengePost are announcing the Connected Intersections Challenge, a three-month-long competition aimed at designers and software and hardware engineers. Entrants to the challenge are tasked with “[re-imagining] software and hardware technology to keep pedestrians in NYC safe and alert while remaining connected on their smartphones.”

On a phone call, AT&T New York president Marissa Shorenstein pointed to the AT&T Drive Mode app as an indicator of the kind of applications the company would like to see come out of the challenge. Available on Android, the app can tell when a smartphone user is driving and automatically respond to incoming texts with a custom auto-reply message.

For those interested in entering AT&T’s competition, there are two categories for which prizes will be awarded: solutions for pedestrians and cyclists, and those for drivers apps that encourage safer behavior among both groups. Two additional prizes will also be awarded to projects that encourage safer behavior among both groups.

Here’s the breakdown of how AT&T plans to distribute the $50,000 to the challenge’s winners:

Pedestrians & Cyclists — Grand Prize $15,000

Pedestrians & Cyclists — Second Prize $5,000

Pedestrians & Cyclists — Popular Choice $2,500

Drivers — Grand Prize $10,000

Drivers — Second Prize $5,000

Drivers — Popular Choice $2,500

Multi-Modal Connections (2 prizes) — $5,000 each