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Bloomberg and Aspen Institute unite to prepare cities for autonomous vehicles

Published: 28 October 2016

Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute have announced the Bloomberg Aspen Initiative on Cities and Autonomous Vehicles, a new program for leading global mayors who will work together to prepare their cities for the emergence of autonomous vehicles. Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute will galvanize experts and data to accelerate cities’ planning efforts, and produce a set of principles and tools that participating cities, as well as cities around the world, can use to chart their own paths forward. The inaugural cities in the initiative include Austin, USA; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Los Angeles, USA; Paris, France; and Nashville, USA. Five additional cities will be announced later this year.

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At the CityLab conference – an annual meeting for the world’s most creative mayors, academics, artists, and others focused on improving cities – philanthropist and three-term New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, “The advent of autonomous cars is one of the most exciting developments ever to happen to cities – and if mayors collaborate with one another, and with partners in the private sector, they can improve people’s lives in ways we can only imagine today.”

The Bloomberg Aspen Initiative will accelerate preparedness in 10 leading global cities for the era of autonomous vehicles. Over the course of the year, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute will convene leading global experts, marshal cutting edge data and insights, and facilitate an innovation process that helps city leaders consider the many ways this technology could solve chronic urban challenges, and improve the lives of citizens. By helping participant cities plan for their own future, the initiative will produce and release a set of principles, resources and tools that many other cities can use in their own efforts.

This new initiative responds to discussions with mayors from around the world who are already beginning to feel the impacts of this technology. As regular conveners of mayors, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute are positioned to connect mayors with experts, data and other resources to plan for this shift.

“Cities are natural sites for collaboration that leads to innovation.  This partnership between the Aspen Institute’s Center for Urban Innovation and Bloomberg Philanthropies is a wonderful opportunity for mayors, technologists, policy experts, and thought leaders to apply technology to make cities safer, healthier, and better connected.  The real innovation potential here is not just for new kinds of cars, but new kinds of communities,” said Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute.

The Initiative will create a cross sector public dialogue around autonomous vehicles, leveraging the Aspen Institute’s history of convening leading thinkers and policy makers to address the most complex issues of our time, and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ experience working in more than 400 cities around the globe to solve major problems and improve city life. The initiative will tap experts across a wide range of practice areas and concerns, from technologists to urban planners to experts in the areas of inequality and mobility.

Raj Chetty, Professor of Economics, Stanford University said, “Greater residential segregation is strongly associated with lower levels of upward economic mobility. Driverless cars could potentially reduce segregation and improve upward mobility by connecting many low-income families to areas of opportunity.  But this technology also has the potential to increase segregation by allowing higher income families to live in more distant suburbs. Ensuring that a shift to driverless cars increases opportunity and improves the lives of urban residents across the world will require carefully designed social and economic policies. The Bloomberg Aspen Initiative on Autonomous Vehicles takes a valuable step in this direction by bringing mayors and city leaders together to discuss these issues.”

“This is a much needed opportunity to bring together different stakeholders to help ensure we foster a transportation revolution focused on improving quality of life in our cities. I look forward to working together on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine and redesign our cities around people over cars,” said John Zimmer, co-founder and President of Lyft.

The Bloomberg Aspen Initiative on Cities and Autonomous Vehicles is Bloomberg Philanthropies’ latest Government Innovation offering. Government Innovation equips mayors and other city leaders with the tools and techniques they need to solve urban challenges and improve citizens’ lives.

 

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