Warsaw prized in Bloomberg's 2014 Mayors Challenge


Warsaw Municipality awarded in Bloomberg Philanthropies' 2013–2014 Mayors Challenge.

Mayors Challenge is an initiative by ex-New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's (photo) Bloomberg Philanthropies to foster government innovation in cities. The 2013-2014 edition was the first non-US contest, including 21 European finalist cities out of 155 bidding municipalities. Traditionally, the winner of the Challenge gets €5m to implement the propose project, while the four runners up receive €1m development money apiece. This year the main price went to Barcelona for its Collaborative Care Networks for Better Aging project, while the four runners up were Athens, Kirklees, Stockholm and Warsaw.

What's important, Warsaw won with a transportation/accessibility project (the only mobility project among all five winning cities) for Virtual Warsaw - Urban Information System for Visually Impaired. This city-wide navigation system is based on thousands of transmitters that are to be placed around the city and that communicate with visually impaired users through mobile apps (sending messages to a personal handset) what facilitates their mobility (also within the public transport system, e.g. providing dynamic real time information), broadens accessibility and increases users' independence and self-sufficiency. Warsaw's project was also apprized for its relatively balanced budget and strong replication possibilities.

Except Warsaw, among 21 shortlisted cities was a good number of Central and Eastern European municipalities including Brno, Gdansk, Sofia, Stara Zagora and Krakow which proposed a very promising project on transportation: implementing smart, personalized transportation incentives and a seamless and unified public transit payment system to convince residents to opt for greener transport modes.

Worth mentioning is that among the 12-member Mayors Challenge's jury was Mr. Iván Tosics from Metropolitan Research Institute (MRI), a well-established Budapest-based urban research centre which is an active UITP member.

More information about the Challenge and this year's winners can be found here.