Sustainable Transport and Urban Development at SXSW 2012

SXSW—a festival for interactive media, film and music—is held in Austin, Tex. each year. Photo by Michael Connell.

The annual SXSW (“South by Southwest”) festival in Austin, Tex. features some panel discussions and presentations dedicated to sustainable urban transport. Interested in blogging about one of these events? Contact Managing Editor Erica Schlaikjer: eschlaikjer [at] wri [dot] org.

Electric Car: Lessons Learned in a Global Movement

Saturday, March 10
11:00AM -12:00PM

The electric car could transform the way we think about transportation and energy. This is a disruptive technology that, if successful, may dramatically reduce dependence on oil, enable greater adoption of renewable energy, and shape how drivers think about personal mobility. However, there are many challenges and unknowns ahead. Cities around the world are collaborating to develop electric vehicle ready ecosystems, but will their efforts be successful? This presentation will provide an overview of an international movement, focusing on city leadership and the importance of information exchange.

Sexy Data Solutions for Public Transit Systems

Monday, March 12
11:00AM -12:00PM

Gas prices are up, suburban areas are adopting near-transit, mixed-use philosophies of development, and everyone wants to get to work on time. It’s no surprise that use of public transportation is rising. With the ubiquity of the internet and smartphones, up-to-date information shouldn’t be hard to find. And yet, some major cities and transit systems aren’t using digital tools to update riders. Others have developed hyper-current feeds and channels to make sure citizens are in the know. In short, the amount of transit-related information that needs to be disseminated is tremendous. This panel will discuss: 1) How riders have created their own sources and channels for breaking news and providing current information. 2) The newest platforms chosen by official transit agencies for getting information out, and why some work better than others. 3) How crowd-sourced information can help create “smart cities”? 4) Ways the public can apply similar tactics to other areas in their cities.

Connected Cars, Connected Cities and Urban Driving

Monday, March 12
3:30PM – 4:30PM

As population density in major urban areas changes, cities across the globe are inputting measures aimed at reducing urban congestion. At the same time, in response to environmental concerns, government regulations, and rising gas prices, automakers are developing and manufacturing electric vehicles at a faster pace. These EVs are becoming increasingly connected, passing and receiving information from the cloud, primarily to manage their charge but increasingly to optimize the driving experience. How will population density, digitally connected cities, lowered investment in public transportation, and connected cars change the needs and behaviors of urban drivers? How should digital technologies (including NFC, LBS, social networks) be leveraged to meet their needs both inside and outside the vehicle? Amy and Neal, members of Razorfish’s automotive practice, will lead an exploration of the digital tools that will support the future of urban mobility.

Greening China’s Cities

Tuesday, March 13
5:00PM – 6:00PM

Quite often we read news of *China’s* environmental problems, but much of the spadework to find green solutions — from cleaning urban waterways to shuttering polluting factories to planning sustainable transportation — is happening at a city level. Some cities are more successful than others, because of both better leadership and more generous funding to environmental priorities. Christina Larson, a writer for Foreign Policy magazine who has traveled widely throughout China, will walk us through a few of its experimental urban jungles, including northern Shenyang, southern Guilin, and the capital, Beijing.

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