Carnegie Mellon University

photo of panel

How Flying Taxis Likely Won't Help Us Soar Into the Future

Smart Cities Dive highlighted Metro21 as one of CES's top smart cities leaders and featured our future outlook in their article on the most disruptive tech and trends to come.

In a panel discussion at CES, Metro21 Executive Director, Karen Lightman, sat alongside of experts in the world of smart cities to discuss the most disruptive trends in tech for 2020. But just as flying taxis and luxury electric vehicles are poised to continue making their mark, many cities are grappling with the basic infrastructure, regulations and policy needed to support these advances.

"Do we really need to have flying taxis?” Lightman questioned.  “It would be great if we could do that to help the people in Puerto Rico who are still suffering from the effects of the hurricane and now have had two earthquakes in the past two days …  but to have more rich people getting from place to place because they don't want to be bothered by a car anymore, that bothers me." 

Later in the panel discussion, Lightman brought up the issue of citizen engagement and equity and having those these need to be threads that run throughout any infrastructure project. As the panel discussed 5G, it’s potential, the hype and that governments must ensure that any broadband /digital infrastructure is invested in an equitable manner, partnerships among the panelists started to form. An example of this was when Christopher Clark, the Mayor of Harvey, Illinois said "all this futuristic smart city stuff is great – but I am just trying to get wifi in my community so kids can do their homework" and then after the panel Suzanne Murtha, Vice President Connected and Automated Technologies (AECOM), said she’d work to help him.

Reflecting on the panel, Lightman enjoyed to learn that her fellow panelists were drawing the same conclusions from their work as she has drawn from Metro21. The panel had concensus on the importance of decarbonization and its role in future and current infrastructure. The panel also agreed on the idea of monetizing the street/curb and looking for more creative data-based ways of investing in infrastructure (beyond gas tax and tolls).

At CES, Smart Cities represents the entire connected ecosystem that brings together the technologies, solutions, players and audiences in the smart city sector, including IoT, 5G connectivity, transportation and smart automotive, energy and utilities, health and public safety, artificial intelligence, and data analytics.

To see what other smart city experts said, view the full article here: