SmartWorlds of mobility converge on our stage

by ROB McMANAMY | Jul 16, 2015

Driverless vehicles… Hoverboards… Jetpacks… The Hyperloop…

Little more than a century ago, the mind-bending modes of transportation were sputtering auto-mobiles, wing-flapping aero-planes, and fanciful illustrated rocket ships. A hundred years before that, they were the steam ship and the locomotive. So today, who really can say that even the wildest figments of our imagination can’t become tomorrow’s reality?

After all, just because the development of new forms of mobility hasn’t kept pace with science fiction doesn’t make the real engineering achievements any less jaw-dropping. Some accomplishments are even on deck, still waiting for their moment.

Super Fan at '67 Super Bowl (Getty Images)

Super Fan at ’67 Super Bowl (Getty Images)

I was born in 1962, the year The Jetsons cartoon made its debut on CBS. As a child, even before NASA had landed on the Moon, I remember seeing a smiling, helmeted man wearing a jetpack and floating on to the field during the halftime show at the Super Bowl. To this day, I still joke with my wife, “Where are those jetpacks they promised us when we were kids?”

We just have to be patient, I guess. Historically, the railroad industry famously did all it could to hold back automobiles, but cars and trucks eventually won. Similarly, the oil and gas industry has been, shall we say, less than receptive to the advance of electric cars, natural gas, and both solar and wind power. But at the end of the day, no one can hold back the tides. Indeed, greater forces are in play now and eye-popping demographics are driving change. Today, more than 7.3 billion humans walk the Earth. In 1900, roughly 1.7 billion did. In 1800, that number is put at less than a billion.

So the Industrial Revolution never really ended. It was just outpaced by the population explosion.

As a planet, our demand for invention has never been greater. And our needs now are mammoth.

Let us build… smarter, faster and ASAP!

Nowhere is that more evident than in our infrastructure, where our overgrown species is increasingly finding it next to impossible to get out of its own way. In just the next five years, by 2020, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. alone will have to sink $3.6 trillion into its transportation infrastructure if a national crisis is to be averted. (No wonder we got a ‘D’ on the last ASCE Infrastructure Report Card!)

So, in the U.S. and around the globe, as architect Peter Ellis said here at BuiltWorlds in June, “Our cities are now at a tipping point.”

That simple but urgent statement sets the stage perfectly for a very special event here at BuiltWorlds on Thursday, July 23rd. The first in our new SmartWorlds Initiative series, Future Mobility will bring together an invigorating array of expert speakers, divided into multiple panels, but joined by a common desire to find broad, effective and collaborative solutions to mounting challenges that can be put in place quickly and widely.

With such a big topic on our plate, and the great level of interest it has already generated across the built environment, we have had to expand our agenda to accommodate all of our goals for this ambitious event. So, please, mark your calendars for July 23rd, set your watches to an earlier start time of 3 pm, and fix your gaze firmly on the future. After all, it is already hurtling at us at breathtaking speed. Why not be better prepared for it?

For more information on our panelists and agenda, see below. For tickets, click here.

smartworlds: future mobility


HEADLINE FORUM:  4:00 – 4:15 PM

PRESENTER: Marc Rutzen (KIG Analytics)


What modes of transportation will be incorporated into future transit networks? How are emerging technologies and strategies helping solve intra-urban transit challenges?

HEADLINE FORUM:  4:15 – 5:15 PM

Q&A:  5:15 – 5:30 PM

PANEL: Sean Wiedel (CDOT – DIVVY), Joe Iacobucci (SSE), James Price Chuck (TAG Holding)Jessica Hector-Hsu (Regional Transport Authority)

MODERATOR: Rob McManamy (BuiltWorlds)

The built environment has to develop and implement integrated transit solutions for our imminent urban future. By 2050, 8.9 billion people (66% of the world’s population) will reside in cities.  According to the International Council on Clean Transport, the number of motor vehicles on the world’s roads will roughly double from 2010 levels – from 1.4 billion to an estimated 2.8 billion. Commonplace challenges such as congestion, bottlenecks, supply chain disruptions, capacity restrictions, cost inflation, service reliability, and consumer quality will worsen if we do not develop solutions that increase the functionality of our infrastructure.

Cities will need to implement multi-modality network systems that utilize big-data to enhance service orientation, coupled with demand-side measures to incentive model shifts toward alternative modes of transit. The optimization of transport data logistic technologies that leverage passenger information and real time multi-data aggregation are essential drivers to improving operational management and capacity utilization of intra-urban multimodal transportation infrastructure.




Where is the most innovation needed to improve functionality? How is technology shaping the way we design, build, operate, and maintain these systems? How do we rehab and repair existing legacy assets sustainably?

HEADLINE FORUM:  6:00 – 6:55 PM

Q&A:  6:55 – 7:10 PM

PANELISTS: Caleb Hudson (Tesla); Glen Campbell (Patrick Engineering); Michael Cerilli (Navistar); Adebayo Onigbanjo (Zebra Technologies)

MODERATOR: Clifford Kräpfl  (IDSA)

Major infrastructure investment needs are owed to growing populations. Only by satisfying the annual global infrastructure investment requirement of $4 trillion annually, will the OECD’s $ 50 trillion International Futures Program mandate be met. Current existing stock offers a great opportunity to bridge the growing infrastructure gap by executing smart investments that effectively deliver economic infrastructure projects that have relevance to future modes of mobility.

Innovation in digital technologies, construction materials, and system designs will have a transformative effect on the utility of urban infrastructure and revolutionize urban mobility.  The advancement in road management systems, next-generation traffic control systems, and autonomous vehicle technology possess the ability to impact positively economic growth, social uplift, and sustainability. However, to capitalize on these technologies cities will first need to properly articulate a comprehensive infrastructure mandate.



How will urban planning be affected by the future modes of mobility and transit networks? How do we build new systems that are more durable under today’s conditions?

HEADLINE FORUM:  7:20- 8:15 PM

Q&A:  8:15 – 8:30 PM

PANELISTS: Paul Doherty (The Digit Group), Peter Ellis (PENC), Zhongzhi Li (IIT)

MODERATOR: Rob McManamy (BuiltWorlds)

Advancement in transportation has become especially apparent in cities, where technology is creating an emerging multitude of transit options, which can reduce resource demand and help balance system usage. Huge amounts of data are being generated from billions of data-points, providing insight into transit uses. Big Data will be the key driver in re-engineering the way our cities are designed, giving urban planners the increased awareness to execute urban master plans that better yield sustainable transport infrastructure systems which positively impact the economy, environment, and society at large.

This necessary modernization of our intra-urban transit systems can be achieved through integrating sensors, software, and smartphone technology, which permit system elements to become aware of each other. Innovation in transport vehicle technology is requiring that the surrounding infrastructure become more intelligent if system users are to fully leverage the advantages that these technologies could have on urban mobility.