The Warner Center in Los Angeles.
Brayden Law from Pexels

Mobility innovation zones to "rehearse" the future

Los Angeles has designated a Transportation Technology Innovation Zone, located in the West San Fernando Valley. This initiative is managed by Urban Mobility Labs, an accelerator launched by city officials in 2019. The group intends to employs a participatory problem-scoping and design process to shape project priorities, goals, and performance metrics. Private sector partnets include Lyft and Waymo. The zone's first pilot is a zero-emissions, automated contactless last mile delivery service that connects individuals homebound by the pandemic to food from local businesses. A second project will focus on development of mobility hubs throughout the Warner Center mixed-use campus.

The designation of a zone and delegation of managment to a city-sanctioned public-private partnership points towards increased reliance by cities on intermediaries to manage "living laboratories" for urban tech, engaging stakeholders and solution providers in open and transparent innovation processes. One might think of this as a sort of "rehearsal" of the future, not just piloting the technology, but also anticipating the governance challenges arising new mobility behaviors.