Last week I was invited to attend the “Move Together” National Shared Mobility Summit down at Venue SIX10 (which is the conference center within the Spertus Institute at 610 S. Michigan). This was being presented by the Shared-Use Mobility Center, in conjunction with the North American Bikeshare Association. I didn’t get a chance to sit in a lot of sessions (as I had other things on my calendar that I wasn’t able to get out of), but was there on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.
The Summit was sort of odd … it was both a “conference” about shared-use transportation (with topics ranging from classic urban public transit, to car sharing, bike sharing, etc.), and a “convention” for the bike-share industry (with lots of exhibitors of bike options and systems, etc.). On Tuesday morning I sat in on a session featuring two authors whose books I’ve requested from their publishers (primarily for my book-review blog, but you’ll no doubt be seeing them featured here eventually), and I caught most of a session featuring representatives of governmental and community organizations as well.
The SUMC web site has some basic info defining what this is about:
The Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC) is a public-interest organization working to foster collaboration in shared mobility (including bike-sharing, car-sharing, ride-sharing and more) and help connect the growing industry with transit agencies, cities and communities across the nation. Through piloting programs, conducting new research and providing advice and expertise to cities and regions, SUMC hopes to extend the benefits of shared mobility for all.
SUMC is focused on bringing together a wide range of interests – including government, industry, non-governmental organizations, and academics – to share best practices, conduct research, develop model policies and serve as a testing ground for building the shared-use mobility industry.
Shared transportation has grown tremendously in recent years as a renewed interest in urbanism and growing environmental, energy and economic concerns have intensified the need for sustainable alternatives.
Simultaneously, advances in electronic and wireless technologies have made sharing assets easier and more efficient. Automobile manufacturers, rental car companies, venture-backed startups and city-sponsored programs have sprung up with new solutions ranging from large physical networks to mobile applications designed to alter routes, fill empty seats and combine fare media and real-time arrival and departure information.
Interestingly, SUMC was initially funded by the sale of the IGo car-sharing service to Enterprise by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, which had developed IGo … and I had interviewed there about a decade back for their Director of Communications position. In fact, I believe that among those in on my interview was SUMC Executive Director Sharon Feigon, who had been CEO of IGo back then … so it was sort of odd to be doing an interview with her about the summit. Here’s her summary about the aims of the summit:
Needless to say, as a downtown guy who has never really owned a car, I find this entire niche of substantial personal interest. SUMC is still based here, so they have a “finger on the pulse” on local transit issues and projects, although the summit was looking at issues coast-to-coast (I heard speakers from both New York and Seattle).
I was somewhat surprised at how many people were in attendance …
… although this is likely an indication of the breadth of scope (governmental agencies, community organizations, manufacturers, service providers, “true believers”, etc.) of SUMC and, by extension, the draw for its summit.
Anyway, if you want more info, do check out the above links … there’s a lot of interesting programs happening out there to re-invent how we get around!
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