Future of Transportation in Los Angeles, California

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Part
01

Los Angeles: Strategic Plans - Smart Infrastructure

The city of Los Angeles' plan for a smart city aligns with its vision of becoming a national leader in mobility, providing safe, sustainable, affordable, and equitable options of mobility for all through increased investments in transportation infrastructure and deployment of innovative technological solutions.

Vision and Strategy

  • Its vision is to make Los Angeles a regional and national leader in mobility by leveraging the opportunity for investments in the delivery and maintenance of new infrastructure and expanding mobility options through the development and deployment of innovative and smart technologies as the city prepares to host the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic games.
  • It also seeks to enable all people in Los Angeles to have access to safe, affordable, sustainable, and equitable mobility for all transportation choices that treats everyone with dignity and supports vibrant and inclusive communities.

Specific Plan Goals

  • One goal is to create a safe and healthy city by building and managing a safe public realm via transportation systems, including roads, walkways, rails, bridges, and airspace, that operate safely and offer safe access to everyone irrespective of their age, ability, or their mode of transportation.
  • Another goal is to facilitate accessible transportation for all residents. The city will do this by creating a fair and equitable system that is accessible to all, particularly the most vulnerable, by addressing standards for streets and sidewalks, site plannings, as well as land use, and having various transportation networks comprehensively and completely well-connected and fit together, thereby increasing transportation network access.
  • It seeks to attain a livable and sustainable city that addresses the complex and intersectional challenges of preventing and reducing the negative impacts of congestion and climate change and improving socioeconomic and environmental equity, as well as human and ecological health through sustainable transportation systems based on affordable business models.

Specific Action Steps

  • To achieve its goals, the city intends to implement technological solutions. For instance, it can utilize data-driven approaches to provide equitable access and to prioritize safety, including LADOT's introduction of an electric car-sharing program, and using active management tools of real-time digital communications to enhance the delivery of digital services and information related to mobility service.
  • It will also increase its investment in transportation infrastructure, including in rail, bus lines, pedestrian, and bike networks, etc. This action is needed to augment the different modes of transportation as well as to enhance their safety and sustainability.
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Job Creation for Minority

Two insights that are specifically related to Smart Infrastructure which are associated with mobility or smart technology and job creation for minority or disadvantaged groups in Los Angeles include the Great Street For Los Angeles Strategic Plan, by Los Angeles Department of Transportation LADOT. This strategic plan provides targeted job opportunities for the underemployed in Los Angeles. The second insight is the use of data analytics and Artificial Intelligence. The A.I. is coded into operating systems for infrastructure to improve "response to real-time" situations while equipping graduates for opportunities that the changes in the city present, and introducing initiatives that will make tech business embrace diversity and civic engagement.

Key Findings

Great Street For Los Angeles Strategic Plan

  • LADOT has come up with several initiatives to create smart mobility infrastructure and employment for the underemployed in Los Angeles.
  • One of the insights that are specific to smart infrastructure in Los Angeles is the "Urban Mobility in a Digital Age Strategic Implementation Plan (S.I.P.)." This program is geared towards introducing new mobility options in the city alongside supporting technologies. These options include "actively managed, electric, shared, and autonomous" mobility concepts.
  • These new mobility options are geared towards solving problems of congestion in the city, improving the economic growth of the city, saving lives, and fostering "racial and socioeconomic equality."
  • One of the initiatives that the "Los Angeles Department of Transportation LADOT" has launched to achieve the smart mobility infrastructure is the "UML (Urban Movement Labs)." The UML is a strategic and unparalleled public-private partnership aimed at building a coalition of public and private stakeholders, that will unite to proffer smart mobility solutions. The UML will identify mobility challenges, and come up with matching solutions for each problem, focus on The Economic and Workforce Development Initiative, this is to build businesses and well-paid job for the local workforce, and identify and validate communities where programs can be tested through the Urban Proving Grounds Initiative.
  • So far, as much as making Los Angeles a smart city is an obvious goal for the LADOT, creating jobs, and creating an equal playing ground for everyone is also an essential goal for LADOT as well. They have a targeted local hiring program which they built to maximize job opportunities for the underemployed population in Los Angeles.

Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics

  • The second insight is the use of data analytics and Artificial Intelligence, which is coded into operating systems for infrastructures to monitor and provide quick responses to real-time conditions and keep members of the community engaged and abreast of the goings-on in the city. The city collaborates with the Universities to equip students with the required skill set that they will need to take up job opportunities and build careers in areas that the changes in the city will present.
  • The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation LAEDC through the Center For a Competitive Workforce collaborates with 19 community colleges to prepare graduates for jobs related to emerging industries in Los Angeles.
  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has introduced the PledgeLA, making over 80 venture capital and tech firms pledge to diversity and civic engagement in their companies. The PledgeLA is to ensure diversity in the growing tech industry in the state and to give minority groups an equal chance to succeed.
  • According to comptia.com, as of 2019, there has been a 94% increase in the number of job listings that are related to emerging technologies in Los Angeles, and these opportunities are very inclusive, covering every community, industry, and market. Los Angeles ranks second out of forty-six metropolitan areas in net tech employment.
  • The C.E.O. of CompTIA, Todd Thibodeaux, states that "The tech industry touches virtually every community, industry, and market, especially when you consider the tens of thousands of knowledge workers who rely on technology to do their jobs."

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Part
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Smart Infrastructure Trends

Los Angeles is one of the cities leading the way in smart infrastructure trends related to mobility plans and transportation innovation. Some top trends currently being tested or utilized in Los Angeles include air taxis, digital payments for public transportation, smart parking, energy-efficient smart streetlights and smart city partnerships. Also of note, is the trend toward mobility company consolidation in cities like Washington D.C.

I - eVTOL or "Flying Cars"

  • Electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL), AKA "flying cars", are one of the top smart infrastructure trends expected to draw large investments in 2020.
  • Uber has plans to start testing its flying taxi service, known as "Uber Air" this year, and has projected that eVTOLs will become mainstream as early as 2023.
  • At Uber's June 2019 Elevate Summit, the company announced plans to conduct public tests of their eVTOL in a few select cities, including Los Angeles, as well as highlighted plans for skyports—from which the air taxis would take off and land.
  • Big-name investors like Intel have contributed millions to developing eVTOL technology because they believe air taxis will shape the future of urban transportation.

II - Digital Payments for Public Transportation

  • In keeping with the societal shift away from cash payments, many cities are updating their payment options throughout various departments, including transportation.
  • According to one Forbes contributor, continuing to maintain the infrastructure required for cash transactions will no longer be affordable, driving the trend toward digital payment options.
  • Several cities began experimenting with this trend in 2018, including Los Angeles, which introduced the TAPforce platform for accepting new payment methods on the LA Metro.

III - Smart Parking

  • Several cities are investing in smart parking technologies in an effort to reduce emissions and make the parking process more environmentally friendly.
  • Smart parking includes embedding sensors in the ground below parking spots that can be picked up using GPS data from a driver's smartphone. Mobile applications can then notify drivers when they are near an open parking spot, helping to eliminate time spent roaming the city for parking spots.
  • One of the cities leading the smart parking trend, Los Angeles installed technology for a 4.5-mile stretch in the city's downtown area that lets drivers check a smartphone app (or website/511 call) to obtain real-time availability and cost of parking spaces.
  • This included embedding sensors in 6,300 parking spaces in city-owned lots. Parking management software then lets city officials charge different prices based on location, demand and time of day.
  • In another smart parking initiative, Los Angeles also installed 12 electronic message signs that point drivers to available parking spots.

IV - Smart Streetlights

  • Another smart infrastructure trend being adopted by modern cities is replacing old streetlights with "smart streetlights" that utilize energy-efficient LED bulbs, motion sensors and wireless connectivity. Senors can activate the lights when drivers are nearby and also alert city officials when bulbs need to be changed. These solutions make streets safer and lower the city's energy costs.
  • Los Angeles was one of the early cities to adopt smart streetlights, and—as of November 2018—had outfitted more than 80 percent of the city's streets with 4G LTE wirelessly connected streetlights featuring energy-efficient LED bulbs.
  • In just the first year, Los Angeles reported a 63 percent cost savings on the city's energy bill. In an added benefit, the connected poles also improved resident cell service.
  • Chicago was another city to implement a streetlight modernization program, installing over 76,000 LED streetlights in the city's crime-laden south and west sides within the program's first year. The city projected a cost savings of 50 percent over traditional streetlights, saving an estimated $100 million over 10 years.

V - Smart City Partnerships

  • In an effort to lead the way in smart city solutions, Los Angeles launched Urban Movement Labs (UML), a "first-of-its-kind" public-private partnership (PPP) devoted to accelerating smart transportation technologies throughout the city and making "Los Angeles the transportation innovation capital of the world".
  • The UML partnership represents a collaboration between city officials, residents, the private sector and academia, who will work together to come up with new ideas to be tested on the streets of Los Angeles.
  • As part of the UML PPP, AT&T announced plans to challenge issues such as traffic, public safety and natural disaster preparedness using solutions like digital infrastructure, structural monitoring and digital kiosks.
  • Greenville, South Carolina, has a similar partnership with Sprint focusing on Sprint's 5G-powered Curiosity loT infrastructure to support new technologies, such as smart machines, connected vehicles, smart crosswalks and autonomous drones.
  • In 2018, FASTLinkDTLA—another public-private partnership helping to drive transportation innovation in Los Angeles—launched an affordable ride-share program to help combat the city's traffic congestion issues. Designed to complement the city's public transit system, the city-run ride-share program focuses on evening hours when public transportation is less available and allows riders to plan and pay for their trip via a white-label mobile app.

VI - Mobility Company Consolidation

  • Another smart infrastructure trend taking place in U.S. cities is the consolidation of dockless bike and scooter companies.
  • Washington D.C., one of the first cities to wholeheartedly embrace the scooter trend, recently approved a plan to keep Lyft, Spin, Skip and Jump (owned by Uber) scooters operating in the capitol, while barring Razor, Bird, Bolt and Lime scooter operators.
  • The District Department of Transportation (DDOT)'s plan is focused on consolidation only, however, not an overall reduction in scooter operators. In fact, they plan to nearly double the amount of scooters in its 2020 dockless vehicle sharing program.
  • Other notable consolidations in the mobility sector in 2019 include Bird's $25 million acquisition of Scoot and OjO Electric's acquisition of Gotcha Mobility.
Part
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Part
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Non-Profit Groups

Some major non-profits or advocacy groups involved in smart infrastructure in Los Angeles, as it relates to mobility plans and smart technology include the Intelligent Internet Of Things Integrator (I3) Consortium, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI).

Intelligent Internet Of Things Integrator (I3) Consortium

  • The Intelligent Internet Of Things Integrator (I3) Consortium was formed in 2017 by several departments in the University of Southern California (USC). It was formed to develop, test, and deploy community-based IoT networks to benefit the city of Los Angeles, its residents and its industry, with an aim to create a common resource using consolidated data streams from many IoT devices.
  • The key initiatives that the consortium is working on with respect to mobility and smart infrastructure or technology include improving the city operational efficiency and citizen quality of life in Los Angeles through the use of IoT, creating a means for the city of Los Angeles to evaluate IoT return on investment and test the latest IoT, and establishing Los Angeles as the silicon valley of IoT.
  • Major supporters of the I3 Consortium include LA City, Amazon, Cisco, T-Mobile and Microsoft.

Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI)



Part
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Part
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Corporations Involved in Smart Infrastructure

AT&T and Google are some major corporations involved in smart infrastructure in Los Angeles.

AT&T

  • Communications, WarnerMedia, Latin America and Xandar are the segments through which the company generates revenue.
  • Through television, mobile and broadband services, AT&T’s communications segment offers entertainment and communications experiences to over 100 million U.S. consumers. The segment generated $144.6 billion in 2018.
  • WarnerMedia creates, produces and distributes feature films, television, gaming and other material through various physical and digital platforms. In 2018, it made $33.5 billion.
  • The Latin America segment offers wireless services in Mexico and digital entertainment services across South America and the Caribbean. It made $7.7 billion in 2018.
  • Advanced advertising services are provided by Xandar. Its 2018 revenue was $1.7 billion.
  • By revenue, AT&T is the largest communication company in the world. In the US, it has 155 million wireless subscribers.
  • In 2018, AT&T's pro format consolidated $184 billion in revenue, with $140 billion capital investment over the last five years.
  • The company has 170 million consumers and is the first to introduce 5G network and device in the US.
  • 273,000 people are employed by AT&T worldwide.
  • DIA Smart Cities Living Lab is powered by AT&T. It is a 4-block corridor in downtown Dallas that contains 9 interconnected smart city projects. It also represents the country's fastest-to-market initiative on smart cities.
  • AT&T is focused on providing water solutions that help cities leverage IoT technology to address the growing concern of water sustainability.
  • The company is doing this through its intelligent irrigation systems, which uses weather data modeling to effectively irrigate landscapes, resulting in cost reduction.
  • AT&T also provides a technology solution that uses acoustic IoT sensors on its cellular network to help identify the location of leaks in pipelines.
  • CIVIQ Smartscapes, HydroPoint, MetroTech and Streetline are some of the major supporters to its smart city program.


Google

  • Google is an American multinational search engine company, established in 1998 by Sergey Brin and Larry Page in Mountain View, California.
  • Google manages over 70 percent of the worldwide online search requests, putting it at the center of the life of most internet users.
  • The company's mission is to "organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful."
  • Sundar Pichai is the company's Chief Executive Officer.
  • It is one of the big four companies in the US alongside Amazon, Facebook, and Apple.
  • Google started as an online search company but now provides more than 50 web services and products, ranging from e-mail and electronic document creation to cell phone and tablet computer software. Its large product portfolio and growth makes it one of the big four high-tech companies in the industry.
  • In 2015, Alphabet was formed via a corporate restructuring of Google and became the parent company of Google as well as many of its former subsidiaries like Calico, X, CapitalG and Sidewalk Labs.
  • As a parent company, Alphabet enabled Google to expand into domains other than internet search to become a technology conglomerate.
  • The company runs low risk of anti-trust breaches under this new corporate arrangement and is also able to more easily incorporate income streams from separate entities.
  • As at December 2019, Alphabet had 118,899 full-time employees.
  • In 2019, Google's revenue amounted to $160.74 billion while its advertising revenue was $134.81 billion.
  • With a market capitalization of $741 billion as of June 2019, Alphabet ranked fourth among worldwide internet companies.
  • The city of Los Angeles (LA) wants to preserve and expand its green space by planting 700,000 trees spread over 469 square miles.
  • Google and Caltech have paired up to develop a machine learning algorithm to help identify and count trees. The algorithm depends on Google Earth and Google Street View.
  • City planners will use the information to allocate more land to parks and gardens within the community.
  • Google has also created a new company called Sidewalk Labs that will operate at the crossroads of the digital and the real world. Sidewalk Labs has been created with the mission of improving city life through technology.
  • Sidewalk Labs will develop partnerships, products, and platforms to solve major urban challenges like the use of natural resources, efficient transport, cost of living, mobility, and government efficiency.
  • Intersection, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, Replica, Coord and City Block are some of the biggest supporters of Google's initiatives.
Part
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Part
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Los Angeles - Grants in Smart Infrastructure

The Innovation Fund and the Zero Emissions Mobility and Community Pilot Project Fund are two grants available in the Smart Infrastructure space for mobility solutions and technology in Los Angeles. The Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program (ATCMTD) is another grant provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in the Smart Infrastructure space for mobility solutions and technology which can be by different entities across the US.

The Innovation Fund

  • The Innovation Fund of the City of Los Angeles provides $1 million to support great ideas presented by City employees. The fund was established by the Mayor and the City Council.
  • Submitted ideas are expected to be innovative, original, and support greater efficiencies. They should emphasize quality of life and priority outcomes such as helping to create a safe, livable prosperous, and sustainable city.
  • The ideas should be executable and measurable within six to 12 months after receiving funding.
  • The funds will be given to the department that will be responsible for executing the idea.
  • The City Council selects which projects to fund based on recommendations from the Innovation and Performance Commission, in collaboration with the City Administrative Officer and City staff.
  • The fund is an illustration of the commitment of Los Angeles to smart technologies.
  • One of the projects recommended for funding in 2019 is the Solar and Battery Storage Resiliency Program.
  • The project will be implemented by the Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP), in conjunction with the Department of Water and Power (DWP).
  • A solar power supply and battery storage system will be installed to provide renewable energy to the community whenever there is a power grid outage. The project will provide charging points for electric vehicles among other uses.

Zero Emissions Mobility and Community Pilot Project Fund

  • The Zero Emissions Mobility and Community Pilot Project Fund was established by the Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP) and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI).
  • The fund provides support for "zero-emissions mobility solutions within low-income communities" in Los Angeles.
  • Funding will be obtained through a grant from the California Workforce Development Board and TEP made available to LACI.
  • The target technologies include "charging infrastructure for multi-unit dwellings, zero-emissions last-mile urban goods delivery (like e-cargo bikes and electric vans), and highly visible EV charging infrastructure".
  • Proposed projects must be executable within one year after submission.
  • A project must either not exceed $100,000 per community, or be completed and deployed at a cost much less than that amount so that other projects from other applicants within the same community can be considered.
  • LACI intends to dedicate a minimum of $300,000 to pilot projects in two or three selected communities.

Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program

  • The Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program (ATCMTD) was created to provide funding grants for the "development of model deployment sites for large scale installation and operation of advanced transportation technologies to improve safety, efficiency, system performance, and infrastructure return on investment".
  • The $60 million grant is provided annually by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
  • The projects eligible for funding include technologies for advanced transportation management, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications systems, advanced access and mobility technologies, and autonomous vehicle technologies.
  • Eligible applicants include state governments, local governments, transit agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, and consortium of academic or research institutions.
  • Previous beneficiaries of the grant include the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT).
  • LACMTA was awarded $3 million for the Freight Advanced Traveler Information System (FRATIS).


Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "LADOT’s mission is to lead transportation planning, project delivery, and operations in the City of Los Angeles. We work together and collaborate to deliver a safe, livable, and well-run transportation system in the city and region. "
Quotes
  • "Transportation is the second largest expense after housing in Los Angeles, and our strategic plan addresses accessibility and affordability as core goals of the system we manage. Our role is to deliver safe and convenient transportation choices to everyone."
Quotes
  • "The City’s transportation system will continue to evolve to fit the context of the time and situation. Today, we are faced with environmental constraints, public health issues, regional inequity, and some of the longest traffic delays in the nation. The way Mobility Plan 2035 addresses these issues through policy initiatives today will set the stage for the way we move in the future."