Clearing the Air on Tech and Cities

And uh ladies and gentlemen we are now Going to be talking about uh clearing The air in our cities uh technology can Play such a fantastic part in doing that Um and they of course can transform Cities but governments can be quite slow The great thing is that cities are now Embracing new tech and getting involved And Atlanta is embracing this Sustainable citizen Journey so let's Hear about the city's piloting of Solutions with Cruz and Uber Alamal holiday is a TechCrunch is Transfer Transportation a space reporter And she's going to guide this Conversation with uh mayor Andre Dickens From the city of Atlanta uh prashanti Rahman who's VP of global government Relations from Cruz and sudeen Jane Who's uh Chief product officer and SVP Engineering with Uber Round of Applause Everybody thank you [Music] [Music] Great well uh thank you to my three Panelists for being here thank you to The audience as well for being here Today we're going to talk about how Cities are establishing these very Ambitious climate goals and we have Technology companies that say that they Can help us get there and we're going to Talk about what that actually looks like So uh mayor Dickens this first question

Is for you I know a couple of years ago Atlanta tried to do something very Ambitious with electric scooters but it Was a bit bumpy to start I know people Were driving them on highways I think You know unfortunately a few people died After being hit by motor vehicles and Atlanta had to really rethink how it Would roll out the scooters in in its City so can you talk to me a little bit About that and and what do your Constituents think about when new Technologies come to Atlanta are they a Little nervous or how do they feel yeah Absolutely Um you know being a mayor of a city and Previously I was a city council member When the scooters uh started being Introduced Across the Nation uh as a a Light you know piece of infrastructure And so the challenge was how to you know Embrace this new disruptive tool to get People around at low cost and one that Was low emissions and didn't have a a Large carbon footprint and this was Something that was embraced by people That wanted to move forward but Individuals that were just uh you know People that were driving in cars were Like get these folks out of the way These scooters are you know all over the Place and it was scooter litter as you Know folks would just ride their scooter And lay it down anywhere and so what we

Had to do was come up with some Standards and to really start having a Community-based dialogue with the school Of providers as we are suggesting now as People go forward as companies look for New innovative solutions uh to always Look for starting those conversations With the the city and with the community In mind first and so once you start with That then you can end with better Results we had individuals riding these Scooters on interstates And the scooters would go a maximum of 10 12 miles an hour and you're on the Interstate that people can go 60 70 or Even 80 miles an hour hour and so it was A challenge and then we have a you know A need to you know make sure that this Is Equitable part of it was to make sure That people that are in all areas in the City of Atlanta could have access to it And not just in our Central business District downtown but folks that really Needed it because they're they did not Have cars and Rapid Transit just didn't Reach their areas as swiftly so we were Trying to make sure that occurred so as A city council member I created the Atlanta Department of Transportation we Did not have one and that was a way to Make sure that that Department of Transportation was being responsive to New technology to the community but also Managing our roads sidewalks and Etc so

It's working out it's a lot better we Consolidated it down to only three or Four providers and they all know the Rules that they operate by and so that's How we go forward with new uh you know Technologies and solution providers is How does the city interact with you Before you drop a a new piece of Technology on us how can we be helpful To make sure that those things get Deployed in the right way I want to put A pin on that because I want to come Back to that um but I wanted to follow Up in terms of public opinion prashanthi There was a video that went viral I'm Sure many of you saw it of someone Attempting to vandalize a cruise car Um I will say they they didn't seem to Get very far so wonderful engineering by Cruz because they were really trying to Bludgeon it and it and it seemed to be To be relatively fine but um What where's the aggression from there What's your best guess what's going on There I think um I think part of it is just It's new it's different and when we Think about the behavioral Paradigm Shifts that we've seen over the last Several decades of how people get around Right we've seen As a child we've been taught dunk into a Car with a stranger and you see a Paradigm shift into the Uber and Lyft

World and the other ride-hailing Companies where it says it's okay to get Into a car with a background checked Driver And now we're seeing a completely Different shift and it's okay to get Into a car with no one there the Anonymity piece is both you know is is Really great for us in terms of people Who don't want to have those Conversations at late at night or want To just sit back relax the cars don't Get drive drunk they don't drive you Know sleepy Etc and so really you're Starting to see just like that education Piece really come into play when it Comes uh to and some people handle it in Different ways of course but what They're quickly realizing is there's a Sensor Suite of cameras lidars and Radars all around the car and that's Really provides that 360 degree view of Everything in and around the car so What's happening is people are starting To see how great the technology is but They also want to test its limits it's Like a new toy but these are these toys Are not to be messed with and they are And they are actually really delivering Some very important services and around San Francisco for example we partner With the Marin Food Bank during the Pandemic and to date we've delivered Over three million meals and groceries

We do late night Hospitality rides and So just sort of thinking about the Effect that certain actions have on Others is really important yeah Um Sandeep I want to bring you into this Um this has been legislated before and We don't have to talk about it now but If anyone has had a sort of rough and Tumble relationships with cities Uber You know you're it so with Cruz being a Little bit earlier in its in its Journey Uh expanding into cities you know what Advice do you have for Crews First thank you for having Uber on the Panel uh I think as new technologies emerge uh Cruz and many of them are emerging we Think there's an opportunity both Government and private sector and Various technology companies to partner Together The ecosystem is very large and Complicated Whether it's autonomous whether it's Shared whether it's electric whether It's non-cars altogether there's a lot Of moving pieces across the board and Today government is our partner period Um we congratulate mayor Dickens for his Vision and Leadership for building a Thriving green Atlanta we would Congratulate Cruz and all the other Autonomous vehicle providers for Bringing new technologies to Bear over

Time I anticipate that various vehicle Types whether they're autonomous or Electric or shared or scooters will end Up being on a network that enables a Company like uber to surface the right Product at the right time to the user Such that if they wanted to they can Live a low emission lifestyle And sometimes that requires taking a Train across the city sometimes requires A bike sometimes requires an electric Autonomous car sometimes it requires Shared rides sometimes requires an Uber Car and so we see all of those working Together in harmony to enable users to Have a low emission lifestyle and it Will no one can really do this alone or Require Partnerships between technology Companies in between private sector and Public sector Yeah he I mean like I want to just take It back off that it's really a Public-private partnership uh that you Are seeking as a Innovative technology Company a disruptive a new innovation You're if you're doing it on public Roads or on public sidewalks any kind of Right-of-way if you're utilizing any Infrastructure that is in the public Domain it's not just your company it's Now you have a relationship with a city Government which means you have a Relationship with the public that Supports and elected that city

Government and so coming at it with the Right mentality about a public-private Partnership is the best way to go so That the best outcomes come about if all Of us have the shared goal of reducing Emissions and the shared goal of having You know equal opportunity and more Opportunities for people to get across Our cities and to jobs or to school or To medicine or even to get groceries That shared goal then becomes a Partnership in how we deliver that Safely in fact actively and with the Least carbon footprint and Sustainability as possible I think Um prashanti and Sandeep I want to get Your perspective on on this I feel like There's a tension here you know startups Are venture-backed and the imperative is For an investor is to make returns for Your LPS and to make astronomical terms For your LPS uh with that in mind often Startups feel like they must move very Quickly and they often sometimes feel Pressure from investors to move very Quickly but it sounds like what all of You are are suggesting is a little bit More careful approach so how do you Balance as a startup founder you know Wanting to move fast having you know Having having this this investment Funding knowing that LPS are are Expecting returns

And also Respecting the fact that you are going Into communities and and the people that Live there need to have you know want to Have a good quality of life Yeah I think you know for us it's a Cruise it's not just about a tech race It's about a trust race you can't build A business Um or an a one that's hopefully to be Commercially profitable at some point Without establishing genuine authentic Organic relationships and building that Trust and that is through Partners like The city government that is partners With other regulatory bodies with other Governmental agencies constituency Groups to community organizations Neighborhood associations and the like And so a cruise we've really dedicated To launching with communities and not at Them and that factors into safety being Our North Star as well right we take a Very slow and deliberate approach every Time we look to commercialize or to Start operations or to map in certain Cities that all goes into the process of Educating bringing people along figuring Out what their needs are understanding The market that we're entering and that Takes time and it takes conversation and It takes a lot of open dialogue and Listening and iterating and so those Important phases of the process are so

Fundamental and that is baked into the Process about timelines and to Understanding when you get there and of Course the regulatory piece is is what It is in every market and those factor In but without that Baseline the the System effectively crumbles and so you Have to build everything upon that basis Of trust I I might add that Climate change and sustainability in General is a very very large and complex Problem and to attack the largest Problems in the world there's a little Bit of cycle time People often forget that Uber Ubers Actually existed for 14 years now feels Like just around the corner but that's a Long time And perhaps it took half of that time For investors to see returns and you're Seeing that for all the companies that Are attacking big problems take uh Charging stations as an example which is A huge necessity especially in urban Areas so for example we're building Products for drivers that enable them to Find the right charging station at the Right time where we're building products That help them with Partnerships that Get them discounts at the various Charging stations or working with public Sector to lobby for government Incentives and funding and I think

There's a lot of opportunity there for Startups to think about how they might Invest or build Innovative products Around enabling charging networks Throughout the world it's almost just Like the Telecom Network took decades to Build and there was lots of innovation That came around that the same thing Will happen with the charging Networks And by the way it will require Government support think about where Electric vehicles were 10 years ago and Where they are today that's a lot of Innovation and partnership but the Returns have been extraordinary for Investors so I do think climate Tech Investors tend to have a slightly longer Horizon and that but that Horizon has Bigger payoffs when they work yeah Um I wanted to talk a little bit uh Prashanti you uh Cruz just announced That it was going to be uh starting the Initial phases of rolling out in Atlanta Which is really exciting why Atlanta why Not Houston Miami a comparable sort of City those are actually on the list as Well Thank you Sarah socializing that yeah Those are the lists and they've also Been announced and really it's about What we've seen in San Francisco we've Been doing this for a decade Cruz was Founded in 2013. and so what we've done Is move really moved from a research and

Development company into a true Commercial commercial company and what We've seen in San Francisco is the Ability to take one of the hardest Totally Dynamic driving conditions and Road areas and the opportunity to see That scale in different markets so when We went to Austin for example we were Able to to go from start to finish in 90 Days in terms of starting the Infrastructure building the facilities Understanding the mapping of this Sequences that go into sort of launch And then be able to actually start Operations 90 days vastly different than 10 years and so the the critical work That we've done with safety being our Guiding star and every single one of Those has really allowed us to scale and Want to bring the benefits of autonomous Vehicles to many cities across the Entire entire country and of course World so that's something that we've Been really hyper cognizant about we're Really excited about we also are Thinking of how we can develop that for Further opportunity we have a new Vehicle called the origin that we may be Talking about and sorry if I'm preceding You Um but it's a purpose first of its kind Purpose-built vehicle Subway style doors Campfire seating no driver console and That is really to make the experience

About being on the road about the Passenger and not about the driver and Changing the way we get around in and Around itself and it would just last Week week to the point of like how do You sort of innovate your products we've Been able to unveil the first of its Kind wheelchair accessible variant of That origin it's a community that we've Talked we're talking about when we build Trust we're talking about active Listening it's a community that we've Heard for years say that they haven't Have not had Transportation Alternatives And so we heard that we actually have Someone who is a user who is a Quadriplegic herself from a car accident Helping run that that product and Engineering and giving user qualitative Studies to that we actually just Unveiled the Alpha version last week and So we're really excited to be grateful To bring things like this to various Local governments who have also said That that's an area that they want to Partner on I almost wonder if if the Fact that the Oracle just is less looks In the interior less like a conventional Car will help with public acceptance Because you aren't thinking there's a Driver's seat there's no one in it this Is spooky but it there is no driver's Seat there's nothing to kind of feel Spooky about I wonder if that will help

You know it's so funny that you say that When we I take a lot of first-time Writers I'm sorry I missed your first Ride today but um we take a lot of First-time Riders and and the first 30 Seconds is this sort of awe and they Went around a double Park vehicle oh it Stopped for The Pedestrian oh that Pedestrian came out of nowhere and it Was able to you know to to acknowledge It and stop accordingly and then Literally two minutes into it people are Bored and they're back on their phones Or they're talking to the individual and So I imagine the origin will have this More like this bigger feeling and They'll be able to concentrate on things That they maybe intake the road what's Happening in around your environment More maybe have that conversation maybe Turn on an episode And have a little bit more of a of a of An opportunity to kind of be with Yourself yeah today I think my first uh A cruise ride yeah it went great you Know just it's literally just like you Said my senior technology advisor myself Donnie we hopped in one and we you know We were riding after the first two Minutes of like what is this and how's It going and I saw I stopped for a Pedestrian I saw all the interactions The bells and whistles and then by then I was looking like where's the radio I

Started turning on the music and we we Did what you normally do we started Talking and then right you know so I Think you know as it gets out in Atlanta Individuals that get comfortable with it But the first you know it's always uh Interesting first you know approach to It but once it becomes normal people get Into it To my Neck and which is you know what you're Describing is reminds me of my my Experience Um taking uh the trains when I lived in When I lived abroad and yeah you took a Train you could you could listen to Music You Could Read you could talk to Your companion Um so why why is Atlanta You know how do you balance leaning into New technologies that are that are cars Versus something like a public transit Less sexy perhaps but uh you know Reliable models for for collectivizing Transportation absolutely I think it's a Both and it's not a either or we have to Invest in public transit we have to get More people in buses and Rail and Light Rail and heavy rail we want to grow our Uh Rapid Transit we want to grow our Marta and so uh we're doing that and we Want to do more of that but we also know That these things are very real and Necessary as well whether it's you know

Ride shares uh taxis or autonomous Vehicles I think that we want to get More people out of single person in a Motorized vehicle that is you know Producing uh emissions so Atlanta's goal Is a 40 reduction in emissions by 2030. We're on our way we have more and more Electric Vehicles including me I have as The executive vehicle of the city of Atlanta I ride around my team drives me In a rivian and so it's produced in Georgia and so I get as a you know as Elected official I'm riding around in an Electric vehicle reducing my own Emissions as I go all across the city of Atlanta and so that's we're building out Our electric vehicle charging stations Across Atlanta we got a great Partnership with Hertz and Uber where we Are really deploying you know hertz's Changing out their Fleet to all electric And rolling that out and so also Electric vehicles and the education and Workforce Development around electric Vehicle repairs as well as electric Vehicle charging station repairs and Installation so it's a green jobs Opportunity there so I think you know Mayors Across America and leaders are Looking for ways to do both how to grow In in all of those segments because you Know we we do need these electric and Autonomous vehicles but we don't just Think that traffic could just also

Become more just electric and autonomous Vehicles stuck in traffic if you don't Continue to invest in ways to move Massive amounts of people at the same at The same time so I think it's a both and It's it's uh it's loud and clear at the Federal government level when I talk to You know talked to secretary Pete Bootage he's on board with how do you Get more infrastructure dollars out to Communities and to help with Electrification Across America that is Something that this Federal Administration is really keen on and I Think future generations of governments Are going to understand that technology And transportation they go hand in hand Because we got to move people around Um even after the pandemic where you Know the work from home and all those Things we still have traffic in our Cities and we still have congestion and We also want to reduce Um you know the the you know the effects Of climate change so how do we do that We're going to need to have a both and Approach that's a great point because I Think there is not an either or part of What we're trying to do is build a Network that surfaces the right products If you've been abroad often will surface And Uber ride to a particular point and Then a subsequently a train ride and you Can purchase those tickets inside the

Uber app and so there are going to be Times where you need a biking Infrastructure at times where you need To train infrastructure types or an Autonomous vehicles sites when you just Driver ride sharing vehicles and so we Can enable a low emission lifestyle if We give the right product the right time To the right user and I think we're We're trying to build that and so it Requires an investment in all of the Various services Though because I it feels almost deeper Than the Alternatives like like the Public transit I live in Austin Texas And there is a there is um a metro rail But it's not it's not super great but it Almost feels like even if they made it Excellent people would still want to Drive their cars because Americans love Cars I love my car it's got a it's got My son's car seat in the back I don't Have to fuss around with you know his Stroller blah blah blah whatever I've Got my Like two day old coffee in the you know Um so so mayor how do you think about That because it feels almost deeper than Just like let's make trains super great You know yeah I mean very good question There's a you know as a mayor as a Public servant you have to manage Competing interests It's usually the Largest part of my job is how to manage

Competing interests somebody wants a Stop sign someone everybody wants a Traffic light people want folks to slow Down so they want to speed speed hump or Speed you know something then but the Fire department says now I can't get to You faster enough to save your life Because now I got all these like it's Literally how to manage all these Competing interests and so at the same Time we want people to embrace uh you Know public transit uh you know and I See in San Francisco people are using it I was just in Montreal recently people Use it but in some cities people are Resistant to it that's why you want more Housing that's densified you know Building people people in closer Proximity so they can walk or so that They can bike so that they can get to Their jobs in a quicker fashion but you Can't just do that at a snap of the Finger so how do you manage the the um The growing pains Um we're coming down your road with a More Light Rail and yeah it's going to Take two years of construction oh my God Nobody wants that oh man you're messing Up my my small business storefront People can't get to me because you're Doing constantly construction so why Don't you just invest more in this well Then at the same time you know you have People that are resistant to some of the

Disruption that these opportunities Cause you know there's all these Political Landscapes and societal things Which is why anybody looking to do Technology innovations that require Public involvement you got to build a Public trust and so you got to come to Governments early I think that across You know I serve on the U.S Conference Of Mayors and you know individuals are Looking to and you know do business with Cities but how do you do that the way we Decided to do that was I created a Department which is the senior Technology advisor so you can talk to Donnie you can talk to his team about What we're trying to do this we're Trying to do that and so then we have You know we're creating these um uh These opportunities for you to Demonstration projects like how would You demonstrate that how do you get this Pilot off the ground how do we try to You know give people a glimpse before You just come full steam ahead and just Make everybody mad at the mayor and you Know and that ain't fun either you know And everybody mad at you and they're on Social media saying your company came in And I don't you know so we have to I Think one of your key questions that you Ask is how do investors LPS and and and These startups how do they feel about we Want to go fast and we're going to get

Our returns quickly but if you're Dealing with the government you know I'm Trying to make it faster slow down And the government is the representation Of the people and you got competing Interests there are folks who are like Yeah but then there's a whole landscape Of skepticism and you know people come Up with uh you know I I you know you Know things that could be damaging and They can be way far stretched and Exaggerating but how do you bring it Back together and have Community Dialogue about it show best cases and uh Best practices across other places that Have done it adequately and I think we Can get there together you know you know Hopefully one consideration on your Question is While Americans love to drive cars that Doesn't necessarily mean they have to be Non-electric right so that's a challenge For putting multiple people in in a Vehicle but there is an opportunity to Evolve our infrastructure such that we Have more vehicle electric vehicles I Think today like one in 20 miles is Electric so there's a lot of Headroom Here and so private Enterprises are Working with public Enterprises that Build charging stations in kind of urban Charging deserts is a huge opportunity While they can continue to love driving Their cars right it doesn't work and it

Doesn't work without an ecosystem right So these are all very from The Uber side And the cruise side from the transit Side those are all one pieces of the Pieces of the puzzle and we're all Trying to move people in a more Efficient manner and so Crews we're all Electric to the start because our vision Is the future of Transportation it is Also uh something that we are hyper Focused on from a sustainable aspect not Only from an all-electric start I shared The food and groceries meal program We've saved over 85 metric tons of Carbon CO2 doing those we also think About Innovative programs we think Farm To Fleet one of the things we've heard About is there's so much digital divide When you think about initial Tech so we So we actually partner with two farms in The Central Valley here in California With so we Source our renewable energy From those two Farms whole Solar farms And so thinking about how to bridge The Divide and continue to augment the Sustainable ways but also knowing that You were one part of the entire Ecosystem and so you can be hyper Focused on that and hopefully everyone Is hyper focused on their piece too and Then we all get together able to Collaborate and see where the gaps are And where the various ways that that Innovation or that technology or that

Product can then improve the law lives Of everyone and I think that is Something that you know we often talk About how does that affect that effect And it's really about this collaborative Spirit that is the only way we get to to Build and create and innovate Seems like they hired a person that Knows government you got to have good Government Affairs people because you You know yeah corporations are looking For the bottom line financially but Mayors are looking for you know that Triple net bottom line yes you know Economic development but also you know Safety and accessibility and equity and And then of course sustainability so We're looking at how to make sure that People are getting uh to their groceries Getting to their jobs getting to school How do you make sure that I can Communicate this to the public as a as a Community benefit not just a profit Center or not just a way to get folks That are investing rich and so that is When you start with that lens you Understand that there's a bottom line That's beyond dollars and cents it's About people that's right yeah and and You know I'm as the mayor you know You're protecting the people's Experience living in your city that's Your you know that's your job Um so we're just coming up almost on the

End so just one final question Um given that there are likely many uh Founders in the audience this one it's Just for prashanthi and Sandeep where Are the opportunities right now like What itches do you guys need scratched Um prashanti you talked about how this Is an ecosystem and how they're we've Talked you know plenty uh on stage about How there's a lot of puzzle pieces that Are going to need to all fit in so what Are the opportunities that that you guys See that you would like to see startups Working on One uh We should recognize that consumer demand Is Shifting so specifically inside Uber We offer multiple green products so we Offer an opportunity for a rider to sh To choose Uber green we offer Comfort Electric which is a premium Tesla Vehicle we offer shared rides and often We offer a no car opportunity whether It's a scooter or a bike and we have Found a meaningful uptick in all of Those products I remember a people Instead of choosing an uberX or choosing An Uber green and so that's a very Strong early indicator especially at our Scale of a shifting consumer demand and Whenever consumer demand shifts that Creates Innovation and entrepreneurial Opportunities they are the ones that are Paying for certain services and so I

Would follow a little bit where the Consumer demand is Shifting and think About Innovation and products around Those areas earlier we had talked about Charging stations as well that's another Opportunity but I do think consume Demand is Shifting and entrepreneurs Should go there Because I'll piggyback a little bit I Know we're at time but the Infrastructure piece is so critical for Really thinking about sustainable Efforts and electrification Um there is we have to think about the Grid we have to think about electric Charging distribution of those because The last thing you want is more Dead Heading mile to a certain area in the City because that's where the electric Charging stations are thinking about the Zoning requirements in and around what Those what those facilities can do so That's really important as we think About future of technology Etc and then I have a hyper granular recommendation For those who are really aching to get Into the startup world is that we are Building this wheelchair accessible Vehicle and one of the things that have Known is there's no Universal anchor System so that there's a bunch of Different view wheelchairs out there but There's no Universal anchoring system And so we have had to sort of adapt the

Technology accordingly so to those who Are ready to to Really create and Innovate I have a very good opportunity For you um but I think for that is it's I think the last piece I'll just say is The public-private Partnerships are are Ripe Um there's so many benefits that Autonomous vehicles can bring to cities Um the the goal is to drive down those Deaths that we're seeing 40 000 deaths On the road of America every year and so When you have technology that can do the Late night rides that can do the not Distracted drives the helping the to Remove the DUIs on the road these are Just Partnerships that I think we have An opportunity to go into communities And help build and we can't wait to do It perfect so I think the the Overarching conclusion is move fast but Not too fast and just try to break Absolutely as little as possible Great well uh mayor Dickens prashanti Sandeep thank you so much for joining us Thank you for having us thank you [Applause]


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