SUMMIT 2009 Proceedings
Moving Minds: The Next Transportation Infrastructure brought together top researchers with business leaders, entrepreneurs, practitioners and policy makers from around the world and across the U.S. to advance new thinking and to accelerate implementation of systems-based New Mobility solutions and infrastructures. This event was hosted by SMART in partnership with the University of Michigan Urban Land Institute Forum (http://www.umuliforum.com/). The summit began and ended with sharing of best practices and a focused working session primarily for leaders and participants in cities / regions / communities undertaking New Mobility Hub Networks, or some form of integrated, door-to-door mobility and accessibility. The purpose was to share knowledge and approaches, and to develop tools for collaborative learning and implementation globally.
A special focus of the conference was “Moving Minds” -- understanding the cultural, psychological, and aspirational underpinnings of our relationship to transportation (for both users and leaders), and responding with innovative systems, policies, and business models that address these values sustainably, equitably and compellingly. Innovators, artists, leaders, and transportation thinkers shared examples of concepts, new visions, images, ads, and dialogue that plumbed the depths of our psyches and even our language as they relate to transportation, with the aim of coming out the other side sustainably.
During the conference speakers and participants also explored a range of theoretical frameworks and some practical applications for creating resilient mobility and accessibility systems, that is, designing and operating integrated transportation systems with capacities for transformational learning, adaptation and creative renewal when confronted by crisis, surprise, stress and trauma.
Finally, panelists drew from the collaborative learning and dialogue of the various sessions to explore and recommend ways forward on policy and research for sustainable transportation infrastructure of the 21st century. Key themes emerging from conference dialogue within each of these areas are expanded upon below.
New Mobility Hub Networks
- Practitioners from cities across the globe shared and learned from each other’s experience with local and regional New Mobility hub networks, with the goal of replicating such networks nationally and internationally.
- Many participants emphasized the value of private and public partnerships for advancement of new mobility hubs.
- A focused meeting of city leads was held to establish a network of Hub Network cities that will meet annually and communicate through evolving web tools
Moving Minds and Design for New Mobility
- In a special design focused meeting we explored how design enhances the human experience of mobility and accessibility, and discussed development of a strategy for building strong design networks that actively engage and connect design and New Mobility.
- Design of a technology or product needs to meet user needs. The trinity for success in technology/product usability includes a balance in 1) user needs, 2) business goals, and 3) appropriate technology.
- Too many transportation companies view other modes as their competition (e.g. train versus bus firms). It’s hard to get them to see that the whole system is more lucrative than the sum of the parts and that it is in their interests to cooperate and revenue-share to develop an integrated New Mobility system.
- Human beings are at the center of design. Designs allow people to live life well. Design is ephemeral--how do you take an idea and turn it into something useful and good for people. Most of all, design is a People also need to be convinced that everyone that they are part of this process and that it is ongoing all of the time. Mobility is how people access things, so it is critical to design it well so people can function well within cities.
- How do we move from a process where we incrementally improve designs to rethinking transportation process altogether? Design needs to play a big role--not just policymakers. How can we use the skillset of creating car passion into creating a passion for other types of transportation? How do we get people excited about what they're going to "buy"?
- Southeast Michigan is "ground zero" for the need for sustainable transportation. In Michigan we have 1800 units of government with planning power.
- How will transportation play a role in developing economies? We usually talk about it from a developed world standpoint, but the models are different.
- How do we design mobility systems to address the needs of 3 billion people who will live in urban slums, who are poor? What solutions are suitable for them?
- How can we foster familiarity with New Mobility systems?
- People-friendly designs (if you can't figure out how to buy a subway ticket, you will avoid it altogether),
- More is not always better (immense amounts of information overload new learning) -- organizing data is key.
- Let them try it out (free 1 month bus passes, etc.) -- familiarity with benefits and practical elements of how to use.
- Power of culture: empower others through similar experiences of their peers.
Resilient Mobility Systems
- Integrated Urban Mobility intersects national discussions about the resilience of cities and the security of nations.
- When we think about resilient systems, we have to think about the people who we’re trying to move and their quality of life as well as the implications for them of developing new sustainable mobility technology (human rights, labor rights, etc.).
- The more complex a problem is the more diversity is important because any one person’s predictions will be way off. If you average the crowd’s responses, they end up closest to predicting the right answer.
- Transportation resilience involves asking four questions:
- Of What? Individual access, economic efficiency, national objectives (equality), global sustainability
- To What? Trauma, events, innovations, development, economics, environment
- Through What? Physical infrastructure, management, governance, users
- With What? Multiple Paths, Multiple Responses, Variations,
- If you multiply all the different combinations, you end up with 576 cases! This is a lot of considerations. You have to consider whether transportation meets these needs.
Research and Policy Directions
- Panelists proposed three changes in transportation research: retreat from asking causal questions to thinking about how to change behavior; shift from focusing on mobility to focusing on accessibility; shift from seeking to justify constraint on choice to removing obstacles to choice
- We have billions of daily car trips in the U.S. everyday. We know very little about how the infrastructure is used. In a sense, we have a lot of unfinished business with the system we have. Should we try to improve the issues we have (e.g. congestion) or should we move into a new paradigm? Transportation is part of peoples’ lifestyles. How do we find out about the system we have to figure out how to fix it without being trapped by it?
- How does data from a university setting get pushed out in manageable, practical way to society? How do we get access to already existing data so that it doesn't get shelved? How does a university partner with on the ground city and regional leaders and business innovators (large and small) to develop relevant, timely, implementation-focused research?