Is RideScout Necessary for Developing Smart Cities?

February 7, 2014

5:14 pm

RideScout has had a really good week. The DC-based startup, which aims to make ground transportation smarter and easier for people, offers a free mobile application that aggregates real-time data on all the available public, private, and social modes of ground transportation for users, giving them access to the cheapest or shortest travel options. In the past week, the company launched major changes to its Android app, added an additional feature to its iOS app, and announced a partnership with Austin B-Cycle. With the rate at which RideScout is adding and developing features, one could argue that its quick adaptability to citizen demands for transportation data is imperative to the development of smart cities.

Back in October, RideScout was selected as the winner in the Smart Cities category at the Challenge Cup DC Regional Competition. Since then, the startup has managed to accomplish a lot – from launching its mobile app for iOS and Android in November (where the likes of DC’s Mayor Vincent Gray and former CTO of the United States Aneesh Chopra praised the company for its potential to revolutionize city transportation) to developing an app feature that could significantly improve the bike-share experience (a feature now available in Austin through their partnership with Austin B-Cycle). The latest update to its iOS app gives users real-time data on bus arrival information. Basically, since the app’s launch in DC, major developments have been focused on making citizen travel increasingly more efficient, which is a core attribute of any smart city.

“I can honestly say that winning the Challenge Cup propelled us to where we are now: an established technology platform here in DC and ready to expand to other markets across the country,” said co-founder and CEO Joseph Kopser. “It’s ironic that we were selected as the Challenge Cup DC Smart Cities winner right before we launched in Washington, and now we’re preparing to compete in the national competition as we plan RideScout expansion in cities across the US.”

In order for one to be labeled a so-called “smart city,” it needs to have the capacity to perform at greater efficiency through the use of technologies/advancements that communicate high-quality city data. In RideScout’s case, its advancements in tracking and relaying city transportation data has been critical to advancing smart mobility in DC, greatly contributing to the development of DC as a smart city. The company keeps a keen eye on citizen concerns or needs when it comes to transportation, and so far it’s done a great job at coming up with solutions to provide the kind of data/knowledge that users want.

The main challenge now is whether they can translate their DC strategy to provide equally efficient mobility in other cities. It’s difficult, yet, to gauge the influence of RideScout in other cities. Despite its potential to greatly increase efficiency in citizen mobility, the company still only has a nascent presence in DC; in order for it to adapt their DC strategic model to other cities, it needs to get a wider proportion of the DC population to use its app (an issue itself) to test for changes to overall transportation efficiency in the city. Withal, once that strategic plan is made, one model certainly doesn’t fit all, and RideScout will have the additional task of creating app experiences that are specific to the needs and the infrastructure of each city to which they expand. These are, of course, issues that – if their ongoing consumer research and app development is of any indication – RideScout is fully capable of tackling under Kopser.

RideScout has certainly developed a important role in boosting DC’s overall smart city potential, and it’s a role that’s surely needed in other cities as they expand. Regardless of how the startup fares in the upcoming Challenge Cup Global Finals and Festival, RideScout has definitely established its significance in the smart cities space.

The Challenge Cup is produced by 1776 in partnership with Tech Cocktail and iStrategyLabs. 

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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