Ford Mobility is pleased to have been such a big part of the 2019 edition of NACTO’s Designing Cities Conference in Toronto, Ontario. Members from across Ford Mobility, led by our City Solutions team, showcased our latest product portfolio and research while engaging in sessions on topics ranging from pedestrian safety to connected vehicles to the future of our cities in an AV era. One reason we wanted to participate in this gathering was because our community-centered, people-first approach aligns with the NACTO mission to empower people-centered streets and cities.
As we moved through the week, it was clear to those of us attending a few themes were emerging:
- The notion of putting the human at the center of your design is not new. But this year we began to see more nuance in this approach. This was well articulated in NACTO’s emphasis on design for kids (which I’m incredibly excited about!). Learn more about their “Streets For Kids” program and let’s all think about what we might do differently if we are designing for the future.
- Cities are thinking about AVs. The latest Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism aims to identify “the near-term policies and decisions that are necessary for autonomous technologies to improve transportation outcomes, rather than lead to an overall increase in driving, greenhouse gas emissions, and diminished public space in cities”. We believe that working together, collaboratively, with cities in this space is a differentiating asset for Ford Mobility.
- Safety remains fundamentally important for cities. They are especially concerned about pedestrian and car collisions, and are seeking to explore all options to reduce this uptick. Vision Zero remains a campaign that is growing, and producing results, in many of the cities. We shared in our exhibit new approaches that highlight vehicle incidents that may be indicative of ‘near misses’ such as hard braking. We heard from cities that this is extremely interesting to them and this reinforces this as an area we’re pursuing deeply.
- Likewise, it was clear data is one of the most critical, most important, most difficult issues cities face. The new availability of big data from digital tools and mobility services is offering hope for more effective transportation planning. But the use of data must be balanced with appropriate protections for privacy and security. This is something cities are doing well, with the establishment of organizations like the Open Mobility Foundation, and Ford is pointedly focused on.
Ford Mobility showcased various aspects of what we offer to cities at the conference. Through our belief in the importance of multimodal transportation we displayed our scooter company, Spin, and microtransit offerings, Transloc and Journey Holdings. Also featured were programs like the National Street Service and City:One Challenge, which offer innovative ways to tackle urban design challenges and bring a community focused approach to innovation design in the mobility space.
We also showcased our City Insights Studio and data analytic tools which help cities understand citizen and community mobility, infrastructure, and safety issues. Learn more about how we have helped Ann Arbor, Michigan become a Living Lab for City Mobility. We believe we build a city in motion one person, one community, and one solution at a time. These products and services are some of the ways in which we aim to accomplish this.
NACTO remains a strong magnet for progressive transportation thinkers within cities, and the diverse lineup of speakers and attendees was quite inspiring. If people want to tap into the conversations that are happening in the urban mobility space, this is the place to do it.
We are excited to continue engaging with cities across the continent to bring these solutions to them. Please let us know if you’d like to dialogue further about what might make sense in your city!