Carnegie Mellon University

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Traffic21 Celebrates Ten Years of Research, Development and Deployment

On November 7–8, 2019, Traffic21 celebrated its Tenth Annual Anniversary Symposium. As Traffic21 looks to build on past successes, the symposium focused on solving future transportation solutions, particularly focusing on how innovations help people from all economic and social backgrounds under the tagline “Mobility for All.” The symposium brought together expert panelists, keynote speakers and attendees from industry, academia and government to experience a packed agenda including a lunch that featured keynote speaker, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and included remarks from PA Congressman Mike Doyle, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh Mayor, William Peduto. Secretary Chao highlighted the role of Traffic21 in an USDOT $8.4 million grant to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and encouraged Carnegie Mellon to continue research into transportation technologies.

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The two-day event featured three plenary sessions, including “The Evolution of Smart Communities” moderated by Metro21 Executive Director, Karen Lightman. The session focused on civic tech and innovation, the interplay between technology, people and policy, partnerships and future outlook. Panelists were John Brzozowski, CTO & Video President, MachineQ; Kimberly Lucas, Civic Research Director, City of Boston; Oliver Steining, VP of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Robert Bosch; and Harriet Tregoning, Director, NUMo.

The session discussed how Smart Cities 1.0 focused on a “connected infrastructure” vision, upgrading infrastructure and using sensing technology and data analytics to manage urban assets while Smart Cities 2.0 is focused on community, using wisdom from residents and bringing together people from all sectors to build a connected ecosystem that works for people. Noted by Tregoning was that cities are already acting to prioritize people over vehicles, building safer infrastructure, and changing land-uses to encourage short-trips to improve mobility while Steining of Bosch used examples of connected solutions within real-estate development projects such as Five Point, a planned community in San Francisco and Whisper Valley, an EcoSmart Community in Austin, Texas.

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While each speaker brought different backgrounds and perspective, they all agreed on the key ingredients to smart communities: co-creating, iterative partnerships, trust and a focus on people. They also proposed the idea of a “reverse call for proposals” – or asking people their painpoints and then focusing research, development and deployment on solving them, we must evolve our attitudes to be open to doubts and criticism and have the discussion to address those concerns and adjust solutions. This philosophy is very much in line with Metro21’s mission of taking 21st century technology and using it to address the challenges of municipal regions. The Traffic21 anniversary event provided a great opportunity to confirm and reaffirm the importance of open, transparent and collaborative partnerships.