Got any ground-breaking transportation ideas? Win the J.M.K. Innovation Prize (total award of up to $175,000); Deadline – April 30, 2015

January 30, 2015 at 3:14 pm


The J.M.K. Innovation Prize is an exciting new initiative of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, a New York-based family foundation. In 2015 up to ten Prizes will be awarded to U.S.-based individuals or teams addressing our country’s most pressing needs through social sector innovation.  The Prize will provide up to three years of support at $50,000 per year, as well as a $25,000 “bank” of funds available for technical assistance or targeted project expenses, making a total award of up to $175,000.  Specifically, the Prize seeks to support inter-disciplinary innovation in the fields of cultural heritage, human rights, the built environment, and the natural environment.  The Prize is particularly designed for high-risk, early stage ideas being piloted or prototyped by dynamic visionaries.

The Creation of the J.M.K. Innovation Prize

For three generations, the J.M. Kaplan Fund has provided catalytic funding for projects in their early stages of development.  Whether a pilot project, a new organization, or a nascent initiative, work supported by the Fund has involved a certain level of measured risk that ultimately led to large-scale, transformative results.  The new J.M.K. Innovation Prize will further this legacy, providing funding to visionary social entrepreneurs throughout the United States who are championing emerging social sector innovations.

Differentiation from Other Innovation Programs

The burgeoning field of social innovation has become a recognized area in philanthropy.  The demand for funding of this type, however, has increased so rapidly that many worthwhile ideas fail to find backing from established funders.  The J.M.K. Innovation Prize will fill a gap in this marketplace, not only by providing critical capital to the social innovation field, but also by taking risks on projects that may be seen by others as underdeveloped or too small.

Another difference is that the J.M.K. Innovation Prize will build on the Fund’s longstanding areas of grantmaking interest while remaining flexible enough to allow for fresh and unexpected thinking.  Prize recipients will ideally innovate across at least two of the Fund’s four traditional disciplinary boundaries:

  • Cultural Heritage (e.g., historic preservation, archaeology, architecture, arts & culture)
  • Human Rights (e.g., immigration, homelessness, incarceration, public health, education)
  • Built Environment (e.g., parks, open space, public space, waterfront revitalization, transportation)
  • Natural Environment (e.g., oceans, conservation, land use, climate change, alternative energy)

Criteria for Selection

The J.M.K. Innovation Prize will be awarded to projects or ideas that: represent a game-changing answer to a clearly identified need; demonstrate an interdisciplinary or hybridized approach, ideally involving at least two of the four areas of interest to the Fund; demonstrate the potential to develop an actionable pilot or prototype with Prize funding; show scalable impact or impact beyond the initial pilot or prototype; and hold out the promise to benefit multiple individuals, communities or sectors through a clearly articulated theory of change.

Our 2015 Timeline

Interested individuals or teams may apply for the J.M.K. Innovation Prize from January 15 through April 30, 2015.  A short application will be made accessible via this website starting on January 15.  A sub-set of applicants will be invited to submit a second, longer application for the Prize in late spring.  A review of these second round applications will take place throughout the summer, with finalists being flown to New York City in the fall to present their ideas to the trustees of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.  The Prize’s awardees will be publicly announced in November 2015.

Award Details

Awardees are eligible to receive $50,000 per year for three years, as well as a $25,000 “bank” of funds available for technical assistance or targeted project expenses.  Accordingly, the total prize award amount will total up to $175,000 per prize recipient over the three year period.  These funds are intended to allow recipients to focus their attention on their social impact idea.  Awardees will also receive ongoing, dedicated support from the J.M. Kaplan Fund, including networking opportunities at in-person convenings.

Apply Now!

You may access the online round one application for the J.M.K. Innovation Prize from January 15 through April 30, 2015 by clicking here.  We are using the grant management software program Foundant Technologies for this process; the creation of a Foundant account is necessary to view the round one application itself.

Additional Information

For convenience, you may download this one-page document containing the information presented on this webpage. For any additional information, please

Video: Glimpse of the future – A “beerside chat” featuring some of the best minds in transportation/automotive technology

January 30, 2015 at 2:35 pm

This is a highly recommended viewing material if you are a transportation professional  (or from any industry that touches up on transportation of people and goods). Why? Because it will help you understand what the future of transportation looks like and get you a glimpse of the challenges we will be tacking. Stimulating would be an understatement if you are a geek like me and this video gives you a lot to think about in terms of how to prepare yourself as a professional to operate/practice in this new paradigm.

Many of our decision-makers and old-school professional grunts, don’t have a clue of the seismic shift underway in the world of industry, dominated by the rapid advancement of automotive technology.  Advanced technology-driven concepts such as connected vehicles, automated vehicles, Internet of Things, etc, that are already appearing on the horizon, we are about to experience something special. and these industry experts, in a very adorable and casual fashion, discuss some of the emerging trends and pressing issues (i.e, cyber security, customer acceptance, etc) over a beer. You may have already witnessed glimpses of this future with Tesla pumping our over-the-air updates to the vehicles, much like the updates for your cellular phone, to improve their performance.    To summarize what’s ahead according to these guys,, the embedded software in a vehicle of tomorrow will be as much important as engine (or even more).   So, if you are a transportation professional better learn to think like a software developer (and get yourself exposed to some programming languages while you are at it).

Chart of the day: Net change in Highway Trust Fund Balance Since 1957

January 28, 2015 at 11:46 am

This chart was included as part of a brilliant blog post by our friends at TransitLabs, which analyses the various issues surrounding the perennial shortfalls that dog the highway trust fund (aka Gas tax).  Highly recommend reading the entire blog titled “Why the Trust Fund Keeps Running Out” and explore the beautiful visualizations that accompany the story.

Image courtesy: Transitlabs

Job Alert: Bicycle Program & Transportation Communications Coordinator – Virginia Tech @ Blacksburg, VA

January 27, 2015 at 3:56 pm

Position Summary: The Bicycle Program & Transportation Communications Coordinator will coordinate the bicycle management program on campus, and identify opportunities to enhance bicycle safety initiatives. Based on benchmarking from other universities, recommend new and innovative bicycle programs for the campus community. Engage students and employees in bicycle planning. Serve as alternative transportation representative on university and/or locality committees reviewing bicycle programming and/or safety. Provide GIS data collection and mapping for alternative transportation and other Parking and Transportation units. Coordinate campus notices, news stories and special features for the Alternative Transportation program as well as other Parking and Transportation units for review by the division communication manager.

Required Qualification: Bachelor’s degree in urban planning or public administration or equivalent training and experience. Demonstrated experience with alternative transportation modes (with an emphasis on bicycling). Working knowledge at the proficient level of GIS software, including ArcGIS, to record and analyze data, and make useful maps. Demonstrated experience analyzing and summarizing data in a variety of formats. Excellent customer service skills. Extensive computer experience and proficiency with Microsoft Word and Excel. Experience using illustration and desktop publishing software such as Adobe CS/5. Ability to complete numerous projects and details simultaneously and accurately. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

Preferred Qualifications: Experience working in university setting. Experience preparing press releases. Experience developing bicycle programs. Experience working with advocacy constituents.

For a complete listing of position qualifications, and to apply, please visit, and search for posting SW0150063. Review of applications will begin 2/09/2015.

Click here to learn more and to apply

Chart of the day – Connected Cars – An Infographic Overview

January 27, 2015 at 1:30 pm

The future of personal mobility looks more and more “connected” as the two economic forces, technology and automobiles, are colliding at a far greater velocity.  This paves way for a landscape that is expected to feature unprecedented levels of connectivity (i.e, tethered vehicles). Here is a neat infograph from Statista that shows the landscape of connected cars and what’s ahead.

That said, one big question that looms large in my mind is this – how are going to manage all that troves of data from these connected cars? How are we going to parse/analyze and make sense out the digital mess that is ready to flood our roads? Only time will tell (or the app developers?).

Image Courtesy: Statista via Forbes

Chart of the Day: Trains, Buses and Taxis… A rough guide to estimate your travel time from city center to 40 busiest American airports

January 23, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Numbers guru Nate Silver & his team over at FiveThirtyEight have done an interesting travel time analysis that deserves a gold medal.. Below is the fruit of their labor and don’t forget to read the accompanying analysis here. One thing is clear from reading this analysis – our transportation network is really messed up and there is a lot to be desired in terms of improved multimodal connectivity (involving public transportation).

Image courtesy:

Chart of the day: Top 10 Automotive Innovators Focused on Autonomous Driving (Plus, Google)

January 22, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Image courtesy: via BusinessInsider

Given the great amount of public interest in automated vehicles, global automakers are no longer kidding around. Off late, they are investing a great amount of  time and resources, particularly in the research shops at Hyundai, GM and Toyota, in developing technologies to support this ambitious agenda. The chart below shows the spike in number of patents related to autonomous driving from the auto OEMs. The chart was part of a survey report by Thomson Reuters IP & Science, “The State of Innovation in the Automotive Industry 2015,” which analyzed patent applications and mapped trends in five key areas: Propulsion, navigation, handling, safety and security, and entertainment.

Image Courtesy:

According to Reuters, Overall, Asians and Germans dominated the top 10 companies for patent applications, while GM, ranked seventh, was the only U.S. company making the list. The automotive sector saw the number of patent filings around the world grow by double-digits year-on-year over the past five years, the Thomson Reuters report said. While Google Inc has dominated headlines in self-driving cars, Toyota, GM and Hyundai received the most patents in this area, said Bob Stembridge, one of the report’s authors.


Chart of the day: Implementing world-class vehicle emissions standards would reduce transport air pollution-related mortality from approximately 270,000 deaths to 71,000 deaths in 2030 globally

January 14, 2015 at 12:34 pm

This chart comes from a report titled “The state of clean transport policy: A 2014 synthesis of vehicle and fuel policy developments” published by the International Council on Clean Transportation.

Air-pollutant emissions and public health

Exposure to outdoor air pollution resulted in 3.2 million early deaths worldwide in 2010 and ranks among the top ten health risks. Motorized transport is a major contributor to outdoor air pollution, particularly near major roadways and in urban areas with a high concentration of vehicle activity. The vast majority of health impacts from vehicle activity occur in India, China, Brazil, Mexico, and the countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. Implementing world-class vehicle emissions standards would reduce transport air pollution-related mortality from approximately 270,000 deaths to 71,000 deaths in 2030 globally, with benefits that are greatly concentrated in major cities. These estimates are limited strictly to exhaust emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from light- and heavy-duty on-road vehicles in urban areas and thus represent a conservative estimate of health impacts from transport.



Image courtesy:

This report summarizes advances in national and international regulations intended to reduce energy use, mitigate climate change, and control air pollution from motor vehicles and fuels across eleven major vehicle markets from January 2013 through August 2014. These eleven vehicle markets—China, the U.S., the European Union, Japan, Brazil, India, Russia, Canada, South Korea, Australia, and Mexico—represented 85% of total vehicle sales in 2013. Click here to access the report and the presser.

The New Yorker Takes On the #Manspreading Issue with a Brilliant Cartoon

January 9, 2015 at 12:10 pm

#Manspreading much? LOL. For the uninformed, “Manspreading,” is the term coined for this: when men take up excess space by sitting with their legs far apart in buses and trains (and this has long been a pet peeve for fellow riders, particularly women). Off late there has been a lot of discussions on this topic, which I suspect was what prompted this brilliant cartoon.

Image courtesy. The New Yorker, via Twitter

And here is the New York MTA campaign poster advising folks to keep their legs together:

Image courtesy: NY MTA


Learn about the newest Connected/Automated Vehicle Test Bed at the Contra Costa Transportation TRB Reception

January 7, 2015 at 11:08 pm

Re-defining Mobility

Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) – Connected Vehicle/Autonomous Vehicle (CV/AV) Program

Surface transportation, as we know it today will soon be radically changed with the introduction of Connected Vehicles (CV) and Autonomous Vehicles (AV).  Technology is evolving so that the automobile – once the ultimate symbol of freedom and autonomy – is now becoming autonomous itself!

With 5,000 acres of testing area and over 20 miles of paved roadway, the CCTA’s Testbed, located at the Concord Naval Weapons Station in Concord, CA – is currently the largest secure test bed site in the United States.  Discover how this collaborative partnership structure will support development for tomorrow’s multimodal transportation technology.

Join us for refreshments and hors d’oeuvres

As CCTA’s Executive Director, Randy Iwasaki will present an overview of the CCTA’s CV/AV Testbed and provide an opportunity to learn about this comprehensive research and real-world program.

Where: Marriott Marquis, University of DC (M1)

When: Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 6-8 pm

Mark your calendars to attend the CCTA CV/AV Summit, March 31, 2015 @ Concord, CA