Google Ventures-Backed Startup Develops Mobile Games to Ease Urban Congestion  by James Temple  May 15, 2014  8AM PDT


People are pouring into cities as the world continues to shift away from an agrarian economy, putting ever greater strains on transportation systems, including roads, highways, buses and trains.

It’s a familiar problem for anyone commuting along Highway 101 in Silicon Valley or waiting on buses in San Francisco, but the region doesn’t even rate among the most congested metropolitan areas worldwide.

A startup emerging from stealth mode on Thursday aims to ease these urban growing pains using a combination of big data, behavioral economics, gamification techniques and good old lotteries.

Urban Engines of Los Altos, Calif., created an online and mobile game that resembles Snakes and Ladders, a virtual version of an Indian board game on which (the suddenly wimpier sounding) Chutes and Ladders was modeled. Commuters can earn points for shifting their travel to off-peak hours, which in turn can add up to real dollars and prizes.  Click to continue

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