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Recap: Forward Summit Regional

Passport recently hosted its regional Forward Summit event in Raleigh, N.C., a thought leadership conference where industry experts and city leaders gathered to connect 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 address on digital city infrastructure from Stephen Goldsmith, Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government and the Director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. 

Featured speakers from municipalities and various innovative mobility and data companies included:

  • Navigating the Infrastructure Bill with Gabe Klein, Cityfi
  • Data Driven Decisions with Matthew Currier, City of Raleigh and Ritwik Pavan, VADE
  • The Importance of Providing Customer Choice with Ken Smith, City of Omaha and Bhumi Bhutani, Way.com
  • Providing Equity On-Street with Brandon Winfield, iAccess Life

Here are some key takeaways:

Putting Citizens at the Center

“How can you make your city work better for your residents?” Stephen Goldsmith opened the day by posing this question to the audience. It all starts with putting citizens at the center. He challenged city leaders in the audience to shift their mindset from agency-centric thinking to people-centric thinking when it comes to making decisions at the curb.

Listening to citizens and their needs is extremely important; this is especially apparent for the ADA community. iAccess Life, a mobile app that lets users with disabilities rate, review and research the places they visit regularly to easily ensure that the space is accessible and can accommodate their needs, is partnering with Passport and the City of Atlanta to survey parkers on their experiences in handicapped parking spaces. Feedback from each survey is aggregated to allow all parties involved, including the City, to understand how well the current infrastructure supports the ADA community.

Brandon Winfield, CEO and Co-Founder of iAccess Life, shared his powerful story with the audience and his mission to create safer, more accessible parking experiences for all. His advice to city leaders? “Be proactive. Listen to the voices, talk to your community and always look for ways to make your cities more inclusive.”

Watch the full recording of the “Providing Equity On-Street” panel featuring Brandon here.

Using Data to Storytell

The parking and mobility industry is extremely rich in data. Technology is allowing operators to visualize what is happening on their streets–such as parking density, enforcement officer mapping, micro-mobility distribution, public transit access and more. The challenge is how cities can effectively take that data and create actions that will have lasting positive impacts on their communities. 

In the Data Driven Decisions panel, Matt Currier from the City of Raleigh explained that the City consistently harnesses the power of data to evaluate trends and issues around repeat incidences on its streets, such as parking violations. The City has deployed various tactics, such as paint and enhanced signage, to modify built environments and positively change consumer behavior. “The density and demand at the curb has driven us to get more creative about how we manage it,” Currier said. “We have to get smarter and leverage tools to allow us to proactively make change.”

Also featured on the panel was Ritwik Pavan from VADE, a software company that is striving to connect the curb through wireless camera technology. The company collects real-time occupancy data to help cities reduce emissions and improve efficiencies and is partnering with Raleigh to help the City manage its loading zones and create more “flexible” curb spaces. Depending on demand, the City can change a certain parking area to be specific to a delivery vehicle or single occupancy vehicle. “In order to use curb space efficiently, you have to know what kind of vehicles are parking there,” Pavan explained. “The data that is collected is helping us understand this and is allowing cities to dynamically manage their curbs so that they can address certain challenges, such as equity.”

When city planning decisions need to be made, it can be challenging to approach city council and other stakeholders. How can we use data to effectively bring these groups together and solve problems? “Data helps break down perception and reality,” Currier said. “We have to break past those perceptions, then use that data to storytell.”

Watch the full recording of the “Data Driven Decisions” panel here.

More Choice = Greater Compliance

Many city leaders discussed the evolving curb space and how consumer demands are changing with the curb. One approach to keep up with this, as discussed in the “Importance of Providing Consumer Choice” panel, is to provide consumers with more options.

Ken Smith from the City of Omaha said that citizens need to have a menu of options to see how to get from point A to point B and a clear understanding of what that mobility experience looks like. The City is currently partnering with Way.com, a car services app that provides users with an easy and affordable way to find, book and pay for quality services, such as parking reservations. Drivers in Omaha can use the Way.com app to conveniently pay for on-street parking.

“We are constantly looking at ways we can drive compliance and reduce parking tickets,” Smith said. “Offering additional services and applications and bringing those verticals together is a way to do that.”

Bhumi Bhutani, Way.com Co-Founder and VP of Sales, explains that there is no better time than the present for cities to start following suit. “There is opportunity for both mobility companies and policymakers to come together and design a landscape of what they envision mobility to look like,” said Bhutani. “With Omaha, we are designing a playbook that, when successful, we can use for cities nationwide.”

Watch the full recording of the “Importance of Providing Consumer Choice” panel here.

How Do We Get There?

According to Gabe Klein, of CityFi, a consultancy that helps translate the complexities of government into simple strategies, cities need to focus on outcomes and have a long term perspective.

“Focus on your values, vision and mission, then your strategy,” Klein explained. “In an outcomes-driven approach, think about how to leverage partnerships to get things done.”