Urban SOS: Fair Share

Submission: September 12, 2016
Registration: September 12, 2016
Language: English
Location: Concept
Prizes: 1st Prize $7,500, 2nd Prize $5,000, 3rd Prize $2,500
Type: Open


The so-called “sharing economy” has changed the way we live, work, get around, take care of daily tasks and interact with each other. But even bigger transformations are possible. It’s time to imagine a new generation of digital innovations combined with physical design strategies to tackle some of the toughest challenges facing cities today.

Fair Share: the 2016 Urban SOS competition, calls on multidisciplinary teams of students to come together and apply the tools and technologies of the sharing economy to support more equitable access to resources, improve the built environment and enrich the quality of life of urban residents.


The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students at all levels of higher education around the world. You must be enrolled in a certified program during the 2016 academic year at Bachelors, Masters or Ph.D. levels.

To participate, you must be part of a multidisciplinary team of up to four members; individuals may not participate alone. Your team must include students
from two disciplines at a minimum; for example, your team may include members from design, engineering, business, technology, public health, policy studies, economics, sociology, international development, social entrepreneurship or any other relevant fields.


As we’re defining them, sharing economy models have a couple of basic things in common: they use digital technology to connect people who have a shared need, and give them  access to resources that aren’t being  used – you want to borrow a bike; I’ve got one I’m not using right now.

We want you to use these principles and apply them to parks, schools, public housing, roads, and any other type of physical spaces or infrastructure in cities to solve urban problems.


How can the combination of physical design strategies and digital sharing platforms create more equitable access to services and resources in underserved communities?

How could government agencies share schoolyards, internet access, books, buses, computers, office space or other physical items, and information or spaces with people who need them? How could design help transform these assets to better meet people’s needs?

Can technology engage groups of people to share the responsibility of taking care of spaces (parks, streets) or people (senior citizens, kids after school) that don’t get the attention they need?

How could sharing economy models offer new ways for many stakeholders to pool resources, exchange ideas and work together to improve the built environment?

How could sharing economy models promote new labor and ownership models that protect and empower service providers, and create safe, productive environments for them?


You and your team will identify a problem or need at a specific site in a specific city around the world, and a population that current infrastructure struggles to address. Then send us your proposal for how design and technology can create a sharing system with both digital and physical components that addresses this need. Your final proposal has to be more than an app or other digital device – it must also make a physical intervention in the city.

We’ll select up to fifteen semifinalist proposals from around the world to be reviewed by our juries of experts in Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York and Sydney. Juries will select a series of finalists who will advance to the final round in Los Angeles, where students from the top teams will present their proposals.


Jurors will evaluate proposals based on the following criteria:

  • It clearly communicates key existing conditions of the chosen site, the people the proposal addresses, the infrastructural need, the urban context and how the proposal will achieve its stated goals.
  • It demonstrates interdisciplinary thinking and collaboration among students from different fields of expertise.
  • It proposes unconventional strategies that marry the innovations of the sharing economy to design and the built environment in order  to address the selected site, people, infrastructural need and urban context.
  • It connects to and builds on existing initiatives from businesses, philanthropic entities and government agencies.
  • It proposes a feasible solution or set of solutions that resourcefully addresses real-world constraints.
  • It increases urban infrastructure’s ability to operate efficiently and equitably, and improves the quality of life of the people affected by these systems.


All entries are due by midnight EDT on September 12, 2016. Your entry must include:

A brief description (100-250 words) of your proposal. Clearly state the name of the city and specific location within that city where you’re working, the challenge you’re addressing and your solution(s). Site coordinates (via Google Earth) of the location, or an address that is searchable on Google Maps should also be included.

The name(s) and contact information of the team members.

A slide presentation of up to 10 slides in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. These must include images and/or text and
be in landscape orientation. There is no word limit but font size must be legible when printed at A4 paper size. Each file must be no larger than 5MB.

All entries must be in English, with any measurements provided in metric units. You may include photographs, diagrams, drawings, renderings, collages or other visualizations to represent your solution(s).

Proposals must be uploaded using the submission
link on aecom.com/urbansos by midnight EDT on September 12, 2016. Entrants will receive a confirmation that the files have been uploaded and should retain this confirmation for reference.

Go to the competition’s website