1616: Colin O’Donnell

Colin O’Donnell is the Chief Innovation Officer at Intersection; he subscribed to FoT in December 2014.

1) What change do you want to see in the world of mobility by the end of 2016?

There’s a big near term opportunity around fleets and intelligent EVs. City-managed fleets offer a huge opportunity for scale in this short time horizon — these are cars that are often driving around our cities daily, logging hundreds or thousands of miles on what are often congested urban streets.

Having a coach builder outfit Teslas for less luxurious roles like police cars and taxis is a big opportunity for someone. Imagine if these vehicles were electric — both reducing air pollution and driving demand for battery swapping and charging services (there are currently no Tesla Superchargers in NYC!). What if the City also had rights to the data the Tesla was collecting, adding in a few more sensors to record important data about our cities such as the conditions of roads, street furniture, store fronts, and building facades?

At Intersection, we’re thinking about how information can improve the way we build and operate cities, and I think mobile sensors, and fleets — with the scale they can instantly deliver — are a key part of tackling this issue.

2) If you had to drop everything right now and build something that had the greatest impact on mobility, what would it be?

Besides the obvious human scale quadrocopter…. I’d build a set of standards and services to help make the world more legible and accessible to machines.

We’re going to need some services to help manage mixed traffic of AVs, drones, and people. I think we’ve spent a lot of research time trying to adapt robots to the human world, teaching them to read english street signs and abide by our constraints, but what if we made the world more legible and accessible for robots, and gave them some infrastructural guidance and assistance? Think how much farther we’d be right now with AV technology!

Colin O’Donnell Bio
Colin O’Donnell is the Chief Innovation Officer at Intersection. Colin O’Donnell defines and drives the direction of Intersection and its products as Chief Innovation Officer. Recognized as a top creative influencer by AdAge Magazine’s Creativity50, Colin works with forward-thinking organizations and clients to create tangible value through new experiences, real products, and disruptive business models that leverage the transformative technology of the web in the physical world around us. Colin’s portfolio includes groundbreaking initiatives such as On the Go, the award-winning digital wayfinding and information kiosks for the New York City MTA; and LinkNYC, the first-of-its-kind communications network bringing free gigabit Wi-Fi, civic services and a platform for innovation to New York City at no cost to taxpayers. His insight into how technology and innovation can shape and influence human patterns and improve city living has been featured in major media outlets such as Fast Company, Wired, and the New York Times.

1616 is a compendium of ideas from 16 FoT subscribers about our near-term mobility future. You can read all 16 entries here; you can sign up for FoT here.