Event Recap: Forward Summit Kansas City

Passport recently hosted its regional Forward Summit event in Kansas City, Mo., a unique conference that offered attendees a chance to connect directly with industry experts and learn about innovative methods and tools shaping the future of mobility.

The one-day event was filled with engaging panel discussions and kicked off with a keynote given by Karina Ricks, Partner at CityFi. Featured speakers from municipalities and various innovative mobility and data companies included:

  • The Past & Present Complexities at the Curb with Matt Muckenthaler, Kansas City, Missouri and Ken Smith, City of Omaha, Nebraska
  • Demystifying Payments with Wayne Mixdorf, City of Lincoln, Nebraska; Brad Harrell, City of Lawrence, Kansas; Bryan Carroll, Cybersource 
  • Data Driven Decisions at the Curb with David Parker, Cleverciti; Joseph Al-Hajeri, City of Austin, Texas; Tobias Marx, City of Bend, Oregon
  • A Conversation with Mayor Stephen Goldsmith with Mayor Stephen Goldsmith and Joni Wickham, Wickham James Strategies & Solutions 

Key takeaways:

Policy Inertia

“When we think about smart cities, what are the problems we are trying to solve?” Karina Ricks poses this question to the audience at the start of the day. Environmental, societal and economic challenges are all top of mind. By implementing strategies to effectively manage mobility, city leaders can address this trifecta of challenges.

Another challenge that city leaders are facing? Policy inertia – the inevitable tendency to perpetuate established procedures, even if they are counterproductive or diametrically opposed to desired goals. “Seeing and breaking down policy inertia is going to be a challenge for all of us,” Ricks explains.

“Humans are building systems, policies and regulations, and cities can easily lose sight of the other humans that are using the systems,” says Parking Program Manager for the City of Kansas City, Matt Muckenhaler. “How can we create a flexible experience that meets the needs of individuals wherever they are?”

Equity & Access

Today’s idea of a smart city is human-centric, one that is accessible for all, is sensitive to the environment and advocates for safety.

Ken Smith, CAPP of the City of Omaha shares how the City is currently building a streetcar to help enhance access to its urban core. The parking and mobility department is playing a major role in this development and is looking at all decisions from an equitable lens, including offering free ridership and rideshare discount codes. “It’s a constant balance between needs and access,” Smith explains. “Balancing is an act we need to be on top of as parking and mobility managers.”

Part of that balancing act is the ability to offer equitable payment options. As the payment evolution continues, it is crucial to keep access and equity at the heart of the conversation. “Understanding best practices is hugely important,” says Parking Supervisor for the City of Lawrence, Brad Harrell. “We are constantly reaching out to other industry leaders to better understand how they are bridging the accessibility gap.”

When it comes to addressing equity and access, taking a “people first” approach is key. “Engage your community as problem-solvers. Hear their challenges and perspectives to help you advance towards your goals,” Ricks adds.

Using Data to Drive Decisions

The parking and mobility industry is extremely rich in data. The challenge is how cities can take that data and create actions that will have lasting positive impacts on their communities. 

The City of Austin is using its parking and mobility data to identify educational opportunities in its community. Dashboard views allow the City to pinpoint where individuals are using pay stations, credit cards and ParkATX, the City’s mobile payment application for parking. “Most people want to have options available, but they don’t know about them,” explains Mobility Demand Manager for the City of Austin, Joseph Al-Hajeri. “Being able to see the changes in behavior patterns from the data we collect allows us to ask questions and drive change.”

“The idea is to bring together as much data as possible through a platform to facilitate decision making in different places,” explains Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. “The focus is to centralize relevant data, not to centralize the decision making.”

Thinking Differently

Passport CMO, Marca Armstrong, closes out the Summit with a takeaway to the audience: “Tomorrow you are going to think a little bit differently about how you approach your job,” she says. “Think about what it is that you are moving and what you are trying to achieve. The outcomes are important. Ultimately, the people involved – you all in his room – have the ability to impact the outcomes in your communities.”

You can watch full recordings of each of the Forward Summit panels here.