Six for '16: Where We've Been & Where We're Going

Looking Back Moving Forward self-driving cars robotics policy

Here we are at the end of a very--

Leili: Terri....

Laura: ....eventful

Leili: Weir....

Laura: ....unusual

Leili: Distur....

Laura: ....interesting

[guess who's the native Minnesotan and who's the NJ transplant]

--year. We here at Apparatus are in the business of anticipation, and right now we're full of anticipation for the new season of the Bachelor. We're also pretty psyched about the opportunities that lay ahead to create transformative opportunities for addressing some of our most enduring social and environmental challenges. In no particular order, here's a brief retrospective and prospective look at six topics at the nexus of social, natural, and built systems on which we'll be working in 2017.

  1. Self-Driving Cars. Have we mentioned that we're really into planning and policy for self-driving cars? 2016 was a big year for autonomous vehicles. Uber put them on the road in Pittsburg...and pulled them off the road in San Francisco. Tesla's autopilot system delivered the first self-driving fatal crash, while Otto's self-driving truck safely delivered 50,000 cans of Budweiser. The US Department of Transportation released its Federal Policy on Automated Vehicles, while we here at Apparatus helped introduce the nation's first legislation to ensure that self-driving cars are accessible, affordable, and equitable for people with disabilities. 2017 promises to be a blockbuster year for self-driving car projects across the US and the world. It will also be a blockbuster year for Apparatus' Drive Together MPLS initiative, a public-private-community collaboration that will advance Minneapolis to the forefront of forward-thinking policy innovation around self-driving cars, electrification, and car-sharing.

  2. Future Cities. One of the most exciting topics of the year for us has been watching the conversations going on about transforming cities. Just today there was an article in the Houston Chronicle about automated buses potentially coming to the city. It's all happening! For a long-form piece on what the future city needs to consider, check out this piece from The Guggenheim published in August of this year. In Minnesota, our cities will be busy in 2017 revising their comprehensive plans. Apparatus will be working Minneapolis and other city governments to advance foresighting and planning around transportation, energy, housing, commerce, and equity.

  3. Robotic Technology. The robots, they're coming...everywhere. ZDNet published some big predictions for 2017 and beyond. The TL;DR is that there we will be dealing with a variety of changes and disruptions as robots continue to play a larger role in manufacturing and other sectors. There's a special roomba in our hearts for robots. We love them a bot. You have sensored it already. As such, we've partnered with Robotics Alley to bring you the first ever Virtual Policy Forum at their 2017 Conference & Expo in Minneapolis.

  4. The Environment. There's certainly a lot of unpredictability in the environmental space as the new administration moves in (don't worry though, Michael Bloomberg reminds us the greatest work starts locally), but there's no debating (if you believe in science anyway) that the worldwide climate is changing and that we need to continue looking for new ways to protect, renew, and preserve. If you're worried like we are, rest assured some people with serious cash are, too. In 2017, Apparatus will be working at the Minnesota legislature on behalf of Friends of the Mississippi River to fight back against what we anticipate will be the biggest attempt at water quality rollbacks in decades.

  5. Virtual Reality. It's pretty obvious why we think demand for virtual reality will go through the roof in 2017. In addition to entertainment and consumer products, VR will also have signfiicant applications for healthcare, construction, military, and government. Business Insider has a slide show of predictions you can get here which includes some huge stats about the VR market (such as the market will surpass $1B in 2017). We're hoping in 2017 to initiate some serious conversations in Minnesota about how VR can be used to improve planning and participatory processes in policy making.

  6. Equity. Our New Year's Resolution this year (and every year) is to advance policy, facilitate meaningful and inclusive dialogue, and catalyze action to alleviate social and economic disparities.

Happy New Year, everyone. We'll be back sometime between when you get your new gym membership and when you decide that one day off isn't a big deal.

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