Havas: The Future of NYC Transportation


Application Deadline: Friday, November 16th.

Join us for Happy Hour on Tuesday, October 30th at Havas

Havas is a company devoted to building meaningful brands and meaningful experiences. While big brand campaigns are needed, we also strive to make a positive impact on real people’s lives and better our communities through building experiences. Impact comes in many forms. It could be utility, inspiration, or support. And a little can go a long way. Key is to be alert to shifting needs and proactively offer solutions and support when they are needed most.

This year, we’ve chosen to focus on a topic that impacts all of us New Yorkers—the Future of Transportation and the role technology can play to support upcoming needs. Havas will partner with NYC Media Lab to launch an open call for NYC universities to imagine the future of transportation in cities:

Guiding Questions:

How will technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision shape the future of transportation in cities? 

How will data and technology transform how we experience, access and move within cities? 

Challenge Areas: 

Challenge Area 1:  Supporting Growing Commuter Needs

Challenge Area 2:  Improving City Transit Efficiencies

Challenge Area 3:  Helping Businesses Embrace Change and Prepare for Future Demands


Transportation is key to movement, access, connections. It is a critical part of NYC’s economy and culture. And it’s currently going through another big evolution.

We’ve hit a breaking point with congestion and our infrastructure. Data suggests that boomers and millennials alike are gravitating toward cities at an unprecedented rate  At present, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050, two-thirds of us will (Siemens, 2018). With all these people coming and staying in NYC, how can we keep our transit systems up to par, support the growing needs of this growing population, and ensure businesses can still prosper so those benefits of being at the epicenter of culture and access are not diminished?

New transportation products, services, and research have been plentiful over the last few years. We have easy access to Citi Bikes and started leveraging our waterfront with new ferries. We can pick up important packages in our Amazon lockers versus waiting for home delivery. We have wifi on our subways (finally, kind of). We have numerous ride-sharing apps. Waze was designed to help us navigation out of grid-lock two exits before. And Google Maps can predict the exact minute your L train will arrive and even give you directions in Augmented Reality. We are even anticipating driverless cars and smart cities in the near future as well. It’s an exciting time, but it would be naive of us to think that there won’t be some shaking moments in this transportation evolution.

We need your help to harness the power of technology, emerging media, and data to inform future NYC transportation needs for commuters, business, or city transit companies.

Jump down to the application

 Image Credit: Pawel Nolbert

Image Credit: Pawel Nolbert


Where can I apply?

The application is located at the bottom of this page. Jump down to the application

Why participate?

As a NYC resident, student, or commuter we hope you become more informed of the shifts this city is making and play a role is supporting things that matter to you and your community. The process will provide mentorship, connect you to industry talent for networking, and start to build a portfolio that could advance your career. Select entries will be offered grant funds to help bring your vision to life.

What is the funding award for participating?

Receive up to $5,000 per selected team.

What is the desired technical background of applicants?

NYC Media Lab is looking for students with experience working with data science and data visualization technologies, such as AI, Machine Learning, Computer Vision and more. Challenge winners are expected to have experience with rapid prototyping and will be expected to produce a prototype and proof of concept in a short amount of time.

Who is eligible to apply?

The Future of Transportation in Cities Challenge is open to current university students at the graduate, Ph.D. and Post-Doc level. In the application, please indicate your university affiliation, program, level, and expected date of graduation.

What is the time commitment for participating in this program?

The program will involve weekly meetings in-person meetings (around 1-2 hours each week) between Havas Mentors and the selected challenge participants. Challenge participants will be expected to develop their prototypes on their own and participate in the cohort’s programming and events, such as a demo day.

What will the prototyping process look like?

In the early stages of the program, your team will pair up with a Havas mentor. Working collaboratively, you will align on the challenge area you would like to focus on (see below). Then, you’ll explore the emerging media and data-informed solutions that help the needs and wants of the NYC community.  Your mission will be to CREATE SOMETHING to help us demonstrate your proposed solution. Your proposal can come in the form of a prototype, the blueprints for a new design system, an installation, a documentary, a new product/service; you are not limited by form as long as you offer well thought out solutions and can support why you chose a specific output.

Any tips on how I can identify a challenge area?

Havas and Media Lab partners have an incredible amount of data and research available, so you do not need to start from scratch. Here is an example research report to get you started.

We encourage you to start within three key challenge areas, but would be open to others if you can properly back rationale for why your proposal is important to the future of transportation in NYC.

Challenge Area 1:  Supporting Growing Commuter Needs

Challenge Area 2:  Improving City Transit Efficiencies

Challenge Area 3:  Helping Businesses Embrace Change and Prepare for Future Demands


Tuesday, October 30 (6PM-8PM)

Havas and NYC Media Lab will host a special happy hour event at Havas. Attend to explore the open call and meet you potential future mentors…

Still in need of inspiration and insights?  Have a look at these great projects:

Favela Mapping - Tá No Mapa is a project by Google to map out all the small roads, alleys and businesses in Rio de Janeiro's many favelas. “There is an invisible wall separating favelas from the cities, and we want to break that wall,”.  Being on the map, means your business can attract more attention.

Transit Screen - In an effort to encourage users to explore more than one public transit option and to inform commuters of potential outages, Transit Screen aggregates all the cities real-time transit data into consumer-friendly screens that can be dynamically displayed in high foot traffic areas and areas with new subway stops, new bus lines, and new ferry options.

The Tweeting Pothole - Telemetro Reporta, the most influential news show of Panama, decided to point out the hassle people felt every time they encounter a pothole. They installed a device inside the potholes of the most damaged streets of the city that tweets a complaint every time a car runs over it, to the Department Of Public Works (@MOPdePanama) twitter account. The Tweeting Pothole has a special segment with its tweets in our TV news show to present the complaints and made others aware as well to amplify the message and pressure the city to fix the streets.

Metal Plate Birthday Videos - Atlanta couple throws a birthday party for a “forgotten” metal plate on their street, documenting the event to gain public attention.  Each metal plate is supposed to have a tracking number on it, but this one seems to be forgotten and unregistered.

The Evolution of the Subway Card  - NYC’s MTA will be moving away from the flimsy, bendable, easily losable subway cards and offering an NFC smartphone or credit card tap option for payment.

The Price of our On-Demand Economy - UPS, FedEx, and other delivery companies earn up to 7,000 parking tickets every day!  Convenience has its price, one which commercial delivery companies pay in full. With its notoriously problematic parking, New York racks up to $102 million in fines from UPS, FedEx, and its peers. UPS pays the largest bill, with about 15,000 tickets a month and annual fees amounting to $18.7 million in 2006.

Adopt a Hydrant  - Part of the Boston Open Data project, where residents can register to dig out a fire hydrant in their neighborhood during a snowstorm.

How much money should you put on your metrocard? -  Data analysis which tells you exactly how much money you should put on your metrocard.