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Las Vegas among finalists for designated US ‘Smart City’

WASHINGTON — Las Vegas is among 80 applicants for a pilot project to use communication technology to reduce congestion and speed traffic.

The U.S. Transportation Department and NXP Semiconductors NV plan to award up to $40 million to a mid-size U.S. city to pilot the efforts.

NXP and partner Cohda Wireless will give the winning “Smart City” wireless communication modules that allow cars to securely exchange data like hazard warnings over more than a mile to prevent accidents and improve traffic flow.

Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure communication could prevent up to 80 percent of crashes where alcohol is not a factor by alerting drivers to hazards like an icy bridge or speeding car, the government said.

“In the near term, it’s not about automated driving as much as it’s about assisted driving,” NXP Chief Executive Officer Rick Clemmer said.

The technology could be added to police, fire or other municipal vehicles, but that depends on the winning bid and how the city wants to deploy it, he added.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Saturday will announce the five finalist cities in Austin. Nearly 80 U.S. cities applied. Besides Las Vegas, they include Detroit, Boston, Anchorage, Alaska, San Francisco, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.

Finalists will each get $100,000 to refine their plans before the winner is named in June.

Foxx said in an interview on Thursday that he thought the winning city would “serve as a catalyst for widespread change.”

The goal of the Smart Cities project is a “fully integrated, first-of-its-kind city that uses data, technology and creativity to shape how people and goods move in the future,” the department said.

The effort is the latest bid by the Obama administration to advance technology fixes to address the nation’s clogged roads. In January, President Barack Obama proposed nearly $4 billion over 10 years to speed deployment of connected and self-driving vehicles.

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