Signal #5

Where to find innovation in OneNYC’s vision for future transportation?

One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City is a 10-year grand plan delivered by Bill de Blasio administration in April 2015. The goal of this plan is to ensure New Yorkers have a dynamic, inclusive economy, a healthier environment, more affordable housing, and more reliable and resilient infrastructure to be better prepared for the shocks and stresses ahead, and have the ability to bounce back stronger.

It intends to call for the involvement of agencies across City government and extensive public engagement among civil society and private sector. It also has the ambition to be the global model and inspiration for other cities around the world.

My overview on how the plan fares in incorporating technology application and innovation ideas focus on its Transportation section in Vision 1 Our Growing, Thriving City and Vision Zero Section in Vision 2.

At the first glance, it seems that the plan indeed want to send out some bold ideas and ambitious goals. In the Letter form the Mayor, it states: “OneNYC is ambitious, setting clear and aggressive goals.” and “Achieving these goals requires nothing less than bold, innovative solutions.” However, does the content really bold enough to withstand this claim? Rather questionable.

In Vision 1 Transportation section, the fifth initiative calls for expanding the accessibility of the city’s transportation network to seniors and people with disabilities and the supporting Initiative calls for increasing accessibility of the pedestrian network to people with disabilities. This is the only place in my study that specifically mentions the use of technology. It says that a pilot program to explore ways technology can improve accessibility. New technology, such as smartphones, opens up opportunities to assist pedestrians with disabilities, particularly the vision-impaired, in navigating the city’s streets. This ideas echoes the example a classmate mentioned in class. However, for a plan that aims at guiding city development and motivating all actors in the next 10 years, this section seems fall short of a broader and bolder view.

Vision 2: Our Just and Equitable City includes Mayor Bill de Blasio’s key initiative Vision Zero. Vision Zero contains a portfolio of initiatives to make streets safer, including expanding enforcement forces; new street designs and configuration; broadening public outreach and education; developing new legislative agenda. These projects include fifty street-improvement projects to reengineer intersections and corridors, speed cameras to reduce speeding in school zones, and upgrades to City fleet vehicles to monitor speeding and other dangerous driving behaviors.

Although there is no mention of what strategies Vision Zero will use to develop these projects, or what emphasis and priorities it will put to achieve its goals, I think this is a place where a lot of smart technology or media campaign could be applied to. For example, to reduce speed, an innovative idea called “The speed camera lottery” in Stockholm, Sweden makes it a fun thing to do for people to obey the speed limit. As well as ticketing drivers when they run through a speed-radar too fast, the Speed Camera Lottery also notices drivers when they come in at or under the speed-limit. It then automatically enters drivers in a lottery. And here’s the really smart part: the prizes come from the fines paid by speeders.