CITY OF LOS ANGELES in Search of Transportation Technology Strategist

LA didn’t invent the car, but we damn sure made it popular.

LA didn’t invent the latest round of transportation technology…yet, but we will damn sure make the most of today’s technologies to improve our roadways, to streamline traffic, and to help make streets safer for everyone the world over.

Imagine, here you are, at the beginning of the 21st Century, in a position where you can create positive change, and not just make a living, but also make history.

The City of Los Angeles is hiring a Fellow to deliver a Transportation Technology Strategy for the city in the next 6-9 months, funded by the Goldhirsh Foundation.

The Fellow will create a citywide strategy that outlines the future of road safety, road use efficiency, traffic regulation, and traffic enforcement and will create a policy plan for the City to ensure a safe, mobile, sustainable future for the Los Angeles.

This gig represents an opportunity to articulate LA’s vision for everything from app-driven services, to shared use mobility, to autonomous cars.

“It’s about time the car capital of the world planned for the future of transportation in the digital age — moving beyond the car to bikes, ride shares, and autonomous vehicles,” says Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Working together with my Department of Transportation General Manager Seleta Reynolds and CTO Peter Marx, this expert will help us answer questions about how LA can better prepare our streets, systems, and infrastructure to make our city the most livable, modern city it can be.”

Says Los Angeles City Chief Technology Officer Peter Marx, “We’re seeing technologies today that will dramatically change how we move around our City. This position is intended to help an iconic City manage emergent technologies changing transportation systems. We hope it will be a catalyst to both bring these things to the City in a big way, and also to advocate for public policy changes and creative incentives to point us towards the outcomes we want.”

“Technology is exploding the choices people have to get around town: carshare and rideshare are here and growing; bikeshare is coming next year; and the arrival of connected and self-driving cars is imminent,” said Seleta Reynolds, GM for LADOT. “Taking full advantage of technology in transportation is natural for LADOT, among the first to go all in on smart signals and smart meters. We look forward to leading this first-of-its-kind strategy for our city.”

“LA has the talent, the creativity, and the political will to be a global leader in the next generation of technology-driven transportation,” said Goldhirsh President Tara Roth. “We here at the Goldhirsh Foundation look forward to supporting Mayor Garcetti’s vision to define the future of mobility for Los Angeles.”

Interested applicants can visit www.lamayor.org/tech to sign up for more information.

THE JOB: TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY STRATEGIST

Given its position as the largest, densest metropolitan region in the US, the City of Los Angeles stands to reap the most benefits or possibly suffer the greatest negative effects of the arrival of new technology in transportation, ranging from app-driven services to shared use mobility to the arrival of autonomous vehicles. The skill set that exists inside most transportation departments is ill-equipped to understand and tackle the full scope of possible outcomes.

Currently, few cities are at the table in a leadership role on any of these issues, content to let the market dictate outcomes. The current scattershot approach fosters innovation but could benefit from a more solid vision.

Los Angeles has long been a leader in transportation technology, beginning in the 1980s with its investment in ATSAC, continuing with ExpressPark, and most recently signing a data-sharing agreement with Google and Waze.

Further, few cities are better positioned than Los Angeles to benefit from the arrival of nimble, first-last mile sustainable transportation solutions because of its lack of a dominant center; its vast dense land use; and its need to capitalize on its investment in a strong light rail spine.

This work is also consistent with local and national policy direction.

Mayor Eric Garcetti recently released the City’s groundbreaking Sustainability PLAn, which has a focus on affordability, shared-use mobility, and safety.

The Southern California Association of Governments is including a shared-use mobility scenario in its regional transportation planning analysis.

The National Association of City Transportation Officials has begun a conversation at a broad level, developing an initial policy paper on connected and autonomous cars in particular.

Investment in a Transportation and Technology Strategy in Los Angeles is expected to benefit the City, the region, and the work of cities across the US.

THE POSITION

The transportation technology Fellow will report directly to the LADOT General Manager, with significant input and supervision by the Mayor’s Chief Technology Officer.

The ideal candidate has at least five years of experience, strong written and oral communication skills, knowledge of public policy and transportation planning, an ability to collaborate across a wide range of stakeholders on the public and private sides, and an understanding of current and emerging technology related to transportation.

The candidate’s background may be academic, public, private, or non-profit. Demonstrated expertise in economics, business, or transportation forecasting a plus. Preferably, the candidate has experience delivering work products similar to the one articulated below.

DELIVERABLE

The fellow will produce a Transportation Technology Strategy that will include:
· An analysis of the state of existing transportation system, paradigms, and technologies in the City of Los Angeles.

· A detailed overview of the state of the worldwide industry, national, and state activities with regards to transportation technologies and developments for internal and external stakeholders.

· Strategy describing the major factors likely to influence the evolution of transportation needs and specific policy and regulatory changes the City of Los Angeles could consider, including an action plan and budget for implementation.

It is anticipated that the document will be publicly available.

SCOPE OF WORK

The fellow is expected to work collaboratively with partners throughout the region, including the Southern California Association of Governments and Metro, as well as to understand private sector players, including Google, Apple, Audi, Mercedes, Volvo, and other companies who have signaled a significant shift in business models towards connected and autonomous cars.

The work must contemplate the rise of shared-use service providers such as carshare and bikeshare, as well as companies such as Bridj, Uber, and Lyft, to articulate how these business lines are likely to converge.

It is also expected that deliverable will include the role of aggregators such as Ridescout and the concept of a mobility marketplace, where consumers may select, pay for, and execute their trip using a combination of modes. Major outstanding questions that the City would like to answer include:

1. What is the vision for the arrival of these technology providers and vehicles in Los Angeles? What is the expected timeline? What are the upsides for safety, mobility, affordability, and public health? What are the possible downsides to consider?

2. What is the role of government in ensuring that these alternatives are available and used by all Angelenos? Currently, access to jobs and education is not shared equitably by those reliant on public transit and those who can afford other options. Twin challenges exist of affordability and cultural barriers. How can we ensure that the arrival of these options does not deepen the digital divide and instead lower the amount of household budget dedicated to transportation?

3. How aggressively should the City pursue being a testbed for various technologies?

4. What incentives and disincentives exist, including regulation, pricing, and public-private-partnership models, to prioritize a service-focused outcome? In other words, how can the public sector continue to foster the trend away from individual vehicle ownership towards a shared-use mobility model in order to meet the goals laid out in the Mayor’s Sustainability Plan?

5. How much should the City participate as a service provider? For example, should the City own and operate its own fleet of driverless vehicles and incorporate it into a digital dispatch? Are there other ways for the City to invest in the marketplace itself and become an early adopter? Is this desirable or necessary?

6. Are there infrastructure strategies that will make the City more or less competitive for service providers and manufacturers? For example, are there investments in ATSAC that would facilitate safer outcomes?

7. Are there organizational changes that the City should consider or skill sets to target to begin to grow the capacity of the City and region to prepare for these challenges?

To connect the fellow to research, thought leaders, practitioners, and other resources, the GM proposes the creation of an advisory board of 3-5 individuals from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. The advisory board will meet quarterly and to provide input and feedback on the direction of the work and offer guidance on future points of focus and investigation.

It is expected that the initial deliverable will take 7-9 months to complete. At the end of the fellowship, the strategist is expected to work collaboratively with the GM to bring the action plan forward in the city and region, including taking it before the Transportation Committee of the City Council and sharing it with partner agencies.

Interested applicants can visit www.lamayor.org/tech to sign up for more information.

Author Description

Scott Perry -- LA Tech Digest founder

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