Q&A: Transportation Manager Jason JonMichael on why Austin is a smart city to watch

STATETECH: What challenges have you encountered in developing smart mobility programs, and how have you overcome them?

JonMichael: As one of seven finalists in the US Department of Transportation Smart Cities Challenge in 2015, Austin was able to start his smart mobility journey early. The program has enabled the city to identify cultural competency challenges.

Smart mobility is relatively new. It is important to be able to share experiences and get ideas from others, to compare and find ways to collectively move forward as a group. Our smart mobility team contributes to numerous technical communities of practice, standards development organizations and other global communities regarding smart cities.

Education and experiential learning are key to the safe adoption of anything new. Creating events and other opportunities for our community to experience new mobility before or alongside its deployment is one of the ingredients of our secret recipe for safe adoption.

EXAM: Philadelphia’s smart street lighting program aimed to address inequality.

STATETECH: How will technology disrupt the transportation industry in the future?

JonMichael: Electric vehicles and other alternative fuels are disrupting the way governments collect taxes for our nation’s transportation system. For the foreseeable future, as the adoption of cleaner alternative fuels increases, the way each person pays to support this system will have to change.

Vehicles are getting smarter and roads are getting smarter; Artificial intelligence and automated driving will likely transform our terrestrial mobility system over the next 70 years. I expect more iterative uses of automated driving, with a human always in the know, as we move towards full autonomy.

New technologies require specific care and feeding, which can have a disruptive impact on the workforce at first, but is a net positive on developing new skills and planning for the future workforce . When a new mode enters the transport landscape, it can have an impact on many other municipal services. You need to have cultural competence among your decision makers, city management and staff.

STATETECH: What are the next steps for smart mobility in Austin?

JonMichael: We are nearly double the national average adoption rate for electric vehicles. This would not be possible without the excellent leadership of Austin Energy. In addition to moving the city on charging stations, Austin Energy is going the extra mile with incentives and is a trusted advisor to EV buyers, dealers and sellers, for e-cars and e-bikes.

Our region is about to undertake major investments in transportation. Our new transit program, Project Connect, will deploy light rail and more bus rapid transit on more dedicated lanes to be more time competitive with driving. The Texas Department of Transportation will redesign and rebuild the downtown section of I-35 through Austin.

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Add to this the normal development of buildings due to our growth, it can be inferred the need for even more decision support systems, more sensing and wayfinding solutions to help the people of Austin. and our visitors to move.

We see a trend for more types of electric vehicles – like scooters, but larger. Scooters were meant to get people out of their cars, but there are other types of vehicles available. All-electric micro electric vehicles can take you, your family and friends further, keep you comfortable and dry, and four or five of them can fit in a current 40ft center parking space -town of Austin.

The ability to use the limited space we have in mobility, to move more people through more modes, is the biggest trend I’ve seen in my 30 years in transportation technology. . But we need to keep the momentum going to have a sustainable future, a healthy planet with healthy people, something bigger than all of us that we can all be proud of.

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