Three Highlights from the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge Demo Day

On Friday, April 29, two teams of Purdue University first-year students presented their demos to a panel of judges at the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge Demo Day. The challenge — a partnership between the City of West Lafayette, Innovation Partners Institute at the Purdue Research Foundation (PRF), NineTwelve Lab and US Ignite — showcased Communicative LED Pathways and Traffic Real-Time Analysis Weather Systems (TRAWS) prototypes as they competed for $10,000 and the opportunity to pilot their demo on the streets of West Lafayette. 

Each year on busy sports weekends, the population of West Lafayette increases significantly, leading to an uptick in pedestrian accidents. The two teams spent the last four months creating scalable prototypes that improve public safety conditions in West Lafayette. Demo Day gave the students a unique opportunity to present their public safety ideas to the community and showcase their engineering skills.

Meet the teams:

Communicative LED Pathways is an Internet-of-Things-based audio and visual platform to improve situational awareness of non-motor vehicle pathway users to local conditions at individual intersections – congestion, traffic speed, etc. — to improve safety and intersection efficiency.

Traffic Real-Time Analysis Weather System is an Internet-of-Things-based street sign platform that delivers automated Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning derived messages based on various roadway conditions – weather, congestion, construction – to road users to improve safety and roadway efficiency.

 The Highlights:

The teams’ demo presentations awed everyone in the room. But if you were not able to attend in-person don’t worry. Check out the highlights from the event below:

1.First-year Purdue Students Lead the Way

The teams showcased the immense ability of students when presented with a well-thought-out challenge. The first-year Purdue students demonstrated sophisticated and impressive prototypes but, more importantly, highlighted the importance of teamwork, problem-solving and grit, hallmarks of Purdue University students.

2.   Partnerships are the Key to Success

 The City of West Lafayette and Purdue University can solve challenging problems together. With the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge, students, the city, and PRF worked together to address a public safety challenge in the community. Demo Day highlighted the benefits of such a partnership. Each team referenced their meetings with city officials during their presentation and both teams adapted their prototypes based on this feedback.  In both cases, the feedback helped to evolve the concepts to better address real-world situations.

This partnership between the university, students and the community can act as a model for other communities looking to solve challenging problems by tapping the local talent pool.

3.   Noteworthy Data Points Backing Student Solutions

Throughout the competition, both teams relied on primary and secondary research to support their use cases and proposed solutions. This work affirmed the need for innovative solutions to protect road users in West Lafayette. Here are some of the most noteworthy facts referenced during Demo Day: 

●     On average, students walk in bike lanes accidentally 3.08 times per week and purposefully 3.73 times per week.

●     21% of reported bicycle crashes occurred during at dawn, dusk or night.

●     Black ice generally forms when the air is oversaturated with moisture and when the dew point and air temperature converge. Black ice can be reliably predicted using a complex set of calculations based on a limited number of key sensor inputs.

●     40% of reported bicycle crashes in West Lafayette occurred on Purdue campus.

The Results:The panel of judges ultimately selected one winner. Team TRAWS took the grand prize – $10,000! The four students- Sid Gaur (from Reno, NV), Atharva Rao (from Phoenix, AZ), Benjamin John Leith Murray (from Apex, NC), and Joachim Tobias Velasco Bautista (from Binan, Philippines)- also were awarded a one-year membership to the NineTwelve Convergence Lab. In the next phase, TRAWS will work closely with the city to run a pilot of their street sign platform in West Lafayette.