Traditional infrastructure solutions are changing due to disruptive technologies, and traditional engineering and construction firms must adapt accordingly. In that vein, Parsons Corp. announced this month the 10 semifinalists in its first Smart Cities Challenge—titled Transforming Intersections—which aims to significantly increase mobility around cities and reduce the amount of time residents spend at red lights.

Chuck Harrington, CEO of Parsons, announced the semifinalists at CoMotion, a mobility conference held in Los Angeles Nov. 14-15. With Amazon Web Services and Verizon, Parsons will give the winner of the challenge a free one-year trial of the Parsons Intelligent Intersections solution for its transportation corridor.

The semifinalists, who developed data-based transportation system concepts are: Anne Arundel County, Md.; Austin, Texas; Dubai Roads and Transport Authority, United Arab Emirates; Frontier MPO (Fort Smith), Ark.; Manama, Bahrain; Mississauga, Ontario; Pasadena, Calif.; RTC Southern Nevada, Nev.; Walnut Creek, Calif.; and Westminster, Col. The winner will be announced next spring.

Harrington used the analogy of ants at a picnic to explain the goals of the challenge. “There are no jams. How do we get us to move like ants?”

He also noted that engineering firms must rethink how infrastructure is delivered and maintained. Intelligent systems, for example, could tell city agencies when to deploy maintenance crews.

Phillip Washington, CEO of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, announced at the conference that the agency is in the midst of a feasibility study on congestion pricing. Although “we are implementing the largest infrastructure program in the U.S.,” it’s not enough to combat congestion, he said.

The agency over the next year will identify potential pilot program areas in L.A. County for congestion pricing. The long-term goal is to eventually provide free transit using the revenue, first for the congestion pricing area, then for all of LA, he said. “If we can pull it off, it can be done anywhere in the world,” he said.