Join us to participate in the upcoming 2019 City:One Challenge. 

Mapping Mobility Solutions for Citizens in a Focus Area in East Austin

My personal contribution is experience with event design, statistical analysis, report writing, and championing the Austin Center.

Photo of Susan Meredith
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Written by

A multitude of transportation options exist; Austin has studied the issue extensively. What is needed is a new way to see the issue and a scope small enough to drill into the details. The fundamental challenge this proposal seeks to address is:

"How can we use data in a visualization and co-creation environment to drive understanding, decisions and behavioral changes to achieve mobility, health and environmental targets for specific needs in a focused community in East Austin?"

We will use the immersive environment to bring meaningful improvement in the research and community engagement approach for City and community issues, by addressing the problems of:
• Complexity of multi-disciplinary problems needing comprehensive solutions
• Skyrocketing needs for complex data analysis and visualization
• Problems addressed in silos causing problems in other areas
• City initiatives and successes without visibility, engagement and recognition in the community
• No place to casually convene for community conversations about solutions

We know that solving problems in one area can cause problems in another. We use a high tech visualization and immersion environment to co-create solutions. If we look at problems in a multidisciplinary way AND if we engage the community throughout the process, new solutions emerge.

We pattern this project after the San Diego Center (below) but with a focus on local problems, local stakeholders, and ongoing community engagement.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

The prototype version of this Center is being located at Huston Tillotson's new Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Springdale General in East Austin. Therefore we will identify a targeted population for our study in a nearby area. This may be based on zip code, neighborhood association, school, church, geographic area or some other criteria. We will work with the City and stakeholders to identify the best population so that it will be most representative of East Austin overall. Identifying this smaller community provides a unique “laboratory” for testing out comprehensive solutions but in a focused scope. Once we complete this study, we can build on the results to address another population, to validate and further refine our findings.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Prototype - you have built a prototype and tested it with potential users

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

A program was held with 6 Inquiry stations: Affordable Housing, Transportation, Jobs, Education, Food/ Health, and Community/Culture with the question: "How can we foster Environmental AND Economic Sustainability in East Austin?" A key point from the 1 day: People who move further out for affordable housing have an increase in transportation costs (to $13,000 per year) which means they can’t afford to travel to work; they can’t afford to work! Further exploration is needed.

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Susan Meredith is an engineer and MBA serial entrepreneur, ex-IBMer and award-winning author with expertise in data analytics, human dynamics and project management,, Peter Meisen founded and operates Global Energy Network Institute (GENI) and previously co-founded SHARE (Self Help and Resource Exchange) in 1983, North America's largest private food distribution program. The World Resource Simulation Center is a part of GENI.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Team or Organization URL Global Energy Network Institute and World Resource Simulation Center (part of GENI) While GENI has a primary focus on environmental issues, the WRSC structure is valid for any complex question with multidisciplinary aspects, and for issues on many scales. The WRSC in San Diego has focused on global issues, the Austin Center is planned to focus on data and maps and communities in the Central Texas region. Other Austin organizations are also part of our team.

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Rough budget (500 characters)

Assuming 6 months of expenses: $50k Staffing: Director, IT, Marketing $20k Events: one for each of three Stages $20k Marketing: Website Hosting and Security, Social Media, Market Research $10k Infrastructure: Phone, Internet, Insurance, etc.

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

Our activities will occur in three stages with research and analysis in each stage, plus an event to create the collaborative cross-disciplinary exploration: Stage 1: Map out the existing landscape of needs and resources, pathways and current transportation options. Define the user stories (needs) and user profiles of the population. We will collect existing data and create new data collection methods to define the needs. Stage 2: Identify and invite specific solutions capable of meeting each of the user stories/profiles. When possible, provide opportunities to test real solutions with those users. We will collect information on the transportation options, perform analysis on how they meet the specific needs from Stage 1, and hold an event to match solutions with profiles. Stage 3: Implementation strategies for each of the user stories/profiles. We will use the previous Stages to assess the highest priorities for implementation for maximum benefit within cost constraints.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

We will evaluate the success of the events by 1) defining and collecting data on Participation and Engagement Levels for our Community for events at each Stage. 2) documenting and publishing results in a report at the end of each Inquiry Stage on activities completed, conclusions reached, and next steps. The deliverables at each Stage include: Stage 1: Definition of the user stories (needs) and user profiles of each population with those needs Stage 2: Matrix of specific solutions capable of meeting each of the user stories/profiles Stage 3: Recommended implementation strategies for each of the user stories/profiles The extent of deliverables will be limited by the funds and resources available. We will pursue other funding sources for maximum success. Once tested in our targeted population, the insights can be used in a larger geographic area and population.

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

We will seek grant funding for specific use cases such as the $1.95M NSF proposal submitted for a Smart & Connected Communities grant on health/mobility/sustainability with Austin organizations. We will also develop revenues to sustain the Center during and beyond this project via data aggregation and statistical analysis services, facilitation of public-private sessions on a fee basis and rental of the unique environment when availability allows. The Center will become self-funding.

Social Media @GENINews @rocketshipeart1


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Photo of Sherry Lowry

A winner. Much, much needed and something she can orchestrate.

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