The Ultimate Connected City             12:20 PM Auditorium
  • Paul Mackie, Communications Director, Mobility Lab
  • Esther Dyson, Executive founder of Way to Wellville, author, angel investor, sometime journalist
  • Darnell Grisby, Director of Policy Development and Research, American Public Transportation Association
  • Paul Lewis, Vice President of Policy and Finance, Eno Center for Transportation
There are lots of little and big things that need to go into making transportation
networks work well for people. It’s more of a tangled web now than it ever has
been, with Uber, bikeshare, innumerable apps, transit connections, and
autonomous vehicles.
Paul Mackie of Mobility Lab will interview and discuss with a panel of experts in
TransportationCamp’s auditorium setting about what the first few things they
would do in their cities to help the most people possible get plugged into the
“ultimate connected city.” This is not about what should happen in a 20-year
plan, but rather right now.

  • Paul Mackie (PM) (Host), Mobility Labs
  • Esther Dyson (ED), author (works on health-transportation connection)
  • Paul Lewis (PL), Vice-President of Policy at Eno Center for Transportation  
  • Darnell Grisby (DG), Head of Policy at APTA

PM: We’re going to talk about the ultimate connected city. I’m going to ask the panel questions and then the panel and audience can answer questions. 

PM: What is the ultimate connect city? Eno defines it as a system of interconnect systems. Transportation should not stand alone. You need to think about the people. 

Thinks we might touch on: what does a connected city look like? Making important connections that service a certain number of people per hour. 

We are a drive alone culture and we need to keep that in mind. We need to remember only 15% of the country has used a ride sharing service in the last year. 

What would you do in a city if you could take the first steps to becoming the ultimate connected city? If you were the mayor. 

PL: The concept if a connected city isn’t new. The technology is changing the mentality about that and enabling it. The first thing we need to do is to talk with our public institutions to try and make more partnerships, more connectivity, between the different modes, new and old. It’s not an easy task. Transit is one of the biggest areas we can do this.

DG: WE need to think about if governments can keep up with demand from the consumers. A lot of governments are responsive, slow to change. Until we can change the institutions and those that regulate them it will be difficult to keep up. We would need to re-invent government. How do we maintain social equity? How can we show we’re going to be responsible with taxpayer’s money while making these changes? All of these changes need capital, cash and this requires trust. We need trust. We may need to piss off a lot of people and it may be required. People have been doing things one way for a long time. It might take a few eggs being cracked to make an omelette.

ED: I wouldn’t be a mayor of one of these larger cities, really. Transportation is all about connecting things. I’m about real-time dynamics. It was centralized and now it’s more decentralized, sometimes with pricing as a signal. The TNCs would have a real opportunity in small, less dense communities where there are people without jobs but with cars. They can dynamically schedule themselves. Get the medical system to sponsor ride-sharing for medical transportation. The perspective of the smaller community is very different. I live in NY so I am happy to talk about new subways too. 

PM: You’re so right about medical center partnerships. They have these massive parking lots, like Walmarts, which can cause problems. 

Darnell, you mentioned getting governments to do things differently. How can governments catch up? Are there good examples that can be followed? Should it be a private entity? What about PPPs? It can’t happen in a 40-50 year plan.

DG: There are some governments doing the Uber thing themselves. There are models we can copy. There are some players in the marketplace that could do this. Should we do partnerships or try it ourselves? It depends on the community. Starting it ourselves requires a little more capital. What an agency looks like today may look different 20 years from now. A transit agency might be a contract manager, partnering with all sorts of entities. The questions is can we encourage folks to try? To not be afraid of failure? The need to be encouraged to try again. 

PM: I love the idea of pilot projects, like Capital Bikeshare, which failed before it came back and became successful.