This month, a few of the Detroit region’s brightest minds in mobility traveled to Austin, Texas, to attend South by Southwest (SXSW). Long recognized as a multi-day music festival, SXSW is also an annual gathering for creative expression through technology, culture, and art.
In Austin, a "pop-up activation space" known as Michigan House
hosted a session called Making the Future of Mobility, when thought leaders discussed the tremendous change that next-generation mobility will foster. Among them was Garry Bulluck, deputy chief of mobility innovation at the city of Detroit.
While every person potentially will experience change when we refocus our methods of moving ourselves, our goods, and our services, those who currently struggle with daily transportation could see the most fundamental shift in the way they get around, and therefore, in the way they live their lives.
"We are trying to solve challenges of people, in this time and place, who may choose not to drive, or whose economic circumstances do not allow them to drive," says Bulluck. "We are rethinking how this traditional system of single-car travel can limit people and their opportunities. So i'’s not just transportation, but social and economic mobility that we will be discussing."
Optimistically, Bulluck is referring to the ease of exposing people to jobs, arts, culture, recreation, and health, all through the innovation of mobility.
Mobility innovators are forging ahead with a radically new model, disrupting a 100-year history of single-owner vehicle use. And traditional automotive manufacturers like GM and Ford are keeping pace, if not leading the charge, in some key avenues of development.
"For the leaders of these companies," Bulluck says, "whose day-to-day job is to sell people on the dream of driving a car, to make the shift into discussions that focus on the fact that the way people will move in the next 15 to 20 years will not be a singular, loner approach to getting somewhere where they can make connections to others, it's significant."
Instead, those connections increasingly will be made long before the trip starts, through car-sharing services like Maven
, as innovators seek ways to intersect technology and new business models to move people more efficiently. "We are confronting the economic challenge of car access, or mobility as a service, to enhance the lives of the masses," Bulluck says.
Bulluck and fellow panelists asked some big questions at SXSW, all relevant to a better future through mobility, and Detroit's role in that movement.
"We sit here with all this technology expertise and social activism with a rally cry around regional transit. Looking at our system, how do we prepare the Detroit region for the next 30 years? What does that look like?" Bulluck asks. "We need to start this conversation now and maximize the opportunities ahead. The technology that sits here is second to none, and we are engaging great minds and thinkers to solve the everyday issues in this region."
SXSW is a great venue to spark discussions about how we look creatively at Detroit's manufacturing prowess, and recognize the Detroit region's leadership in mobility advancement.
"We have been a leader in manufacturing, and not just cars, but across a wide, diverse body of things," Bulluck says. "Here, we have innovation and creativity and new thought processes that are not just tied to traditional forms."
Visit Driven and learn how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.