Partnership launches initiative to help cities prepare for autonomous vehicles

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Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute have formed 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.

The new partnership will galvanize experts and data to accelerate cities’ planning efforts, and produce a set of principles and tools that participating cities, as well as other cities around the world, can use to chart their own paths forward. The inaugural cities in the initiative include: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Paris, France; plus Austin, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Nashville, Tennessee, all in the USA. Five additional cities will be announced later this year, and the Bloomberg Aspen Initiative will accelerate preparedness in all 10 leading global cities for the era of autonomous vehicles.

Over the course of the year, Bloomberg and Aspen 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. The initiative responds to discussions with mayors worldwide who are already beginning to feel the impacts of this technology. As regular conveners of mayors, Bloomberg and Aspen are positioned to connect city leaders with experts, data, and other resources to plan for this shift.

The Initiative will create a cross sector public dialog around autonomous vehicles, using the Aspen Institute’s history of convening leading thinkers and policy makers to address complex issues, and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ experience of problem solving in more than 400 cities worldwide. The initiative will call on experts across a wide range of practice areas and concerns, from technologists and urban planners, to experts in the areas of inequality and mobility.

At this week’s CityLab conference, three-term New York City Mayor Michael R Bloomberg (left) said, “The advent of autonomous cars is one of the most exciting developments ever to happen to cities; 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.”

Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, noted, “Cities are natural sites for collaboration that leads to innovation. This partnership 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.”

John Zimmer, co-founder and president of Lyft, commented, “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.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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