IOTC NOW – Connected Mobility Virtual Panel

Zoom Virtual Panel

Automotive and transportation sectors have been undergoing massive digital transformation over the past decade, with changes in consumer behavior combined with technology advances creating a more connected, autonomous, electric and shared mobility landscape. With the onset of COVID-19, the “now normal” of staying at home has meant significant repercussions for this sector. Leading industry executives in this space, however, are already exploring ways to adapt and innovate in order to navigate the current crises and prepare for what’s next.

During the Connected Mobility Virtual Panel held via Zoom June 11, 2020, the discussion focused on what advancements are being planned in the midst of COVID-19 and beyond. Hosted by IoTC Founder and CEO Greg Kahn, the panel was moderated by CNN Senior Writer Peter Valdes-Dapena.

Speakers included:

  • Mark K. Dowd – Chief Innovation Officer, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
  • Prashant Gulati – Head of Strategy, Faraday Future
  • Samir Saini – Chief Business Officer, Mobi (Mobility Insight)
  • May Russell – CIO, Ford Commercial Solutions, Ford

Key Takeaways:

  • In a poll asking respondents if they were likely to own vs rent or use rideshare in 10 years to get around, an overwhelming 70% indicated they would own, which was significant to getting the discussion off and running. Whether it reflected a need to feel safe or independent, car ownership will be a permanent part of the mobility ecosystem for the foreseeable future.
  • In a second poll, respondents were asked who they trust more with their mobility data in terms of managing and sharing it: A) the car manufacturer B) the dealer 3) insurance companies D) financial services companies or banks E) telecommunication or cloud service providers F) local government G) none of the above. The car manufacturer would be trusted the most followed by telecom or cloud service providers.
  • New York City, which was the epicenter of COVID-19 in the U.S. and a city dependent on public transit, has seen an increase in ridership but still at half capacity from pre-COVID levels. While sanitation and disinfectant measures have been put in place, there are still more advanced technologies such as sensors and cameras that can be deployed to help with predicting and detecting potential overcrowding and enhancing safety. Given recent announcements from Amazon, IBM and Microsoft, however, facial recognition technology in particular has a long way to go before being widely deployed and accepted by the general population.
  • Curbside pickup for retailers is here to stay, as more customers who turned to this option during the coronavirus pandemic have found it both convenient and safe. It’s one of the reasons why commercial property owners are considering the idea of curbside brokerage and rolling out designated curbside pickup spaces in parking lots. That’s important for the autonomous vehicle (AV) conversation, as AVs may focus on delivery of goods before they are widely used for moving people. In the meantime, we are bound to see consolidation in the auto industry, as personalization and connectivity inside of and outside of the vehicle merge to provide more convenience and enjoyment (infotainment) for owners. Some OEMs will be farther ahead, with more time, expertise, connected technologies and finances invested than others.
  • Looking ahead, changes are still unfolding, as cities begin to consider the options for public transport, recognizing that all modes outside of rail and subway require the use of the same network of roads. Many have put existing projects that advance smart city initiatives on hold or have budgetary constraints for implanting new plans. Many more important conversations around this are needed before trust is restored in riders. Equally important and directly impacting mobility is the future of work. More people working remotely will undoubtedly help reduce traffic and congestion, as well as pollution.

IoTC NOW Mobility Panel

Peter Valdes-Dapena

Senior Writer – CNN

Peter Valdes-Dapena is a senior writer for CNN Business where he covers automobiles, the industry that produces them and the changing ways in which people buy, own and use them.

Valdes-Dapena has written about the industry for CNN since 2001 and, in that time, covered the American auto industry’s collapse during the 2008 financial crisis and its resurgence. Now he’s covering the industry’s shift toward new technology such as electric propulsion, autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing services.

Valdes-Dapena was born near Philadelphia but grew up in South Florida where he earned an undergraduate degree in communication and a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Miami. He worked as a business journalist and as a science writer for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center before being able to indulge his own passion for automobiles as a car writer for CNN.

Mark K. Dowd

Chief Innovation Officer – New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)

Mark K. Dowd joined the MTA in November 2019 as its first Chief Innovation Officer. Mark is leading several pre-COVID technology initiatives including the application of ultra-wideband to subways, and is deeply involved in spearheading innovative approaches to the COVID crisis in New York, including the application of ultraviolet light to kill the virus that cause COVID, developing technology tools to help with social distancing, and standing up a for-hire-vehicle program in five days to provide essential workers with transportation during the shutdown of subway service from 1:00am to 5:00am.

Prior to joining the MTA, Mark was the founder and Executive Director of Smart Cities Lab, a city-facing nonprofit providing policy support and a venue for cities to share what works, and what does not work, in a challenging funding environment. He also partnered with the innovation community to forge new solutions to the cities’ stubborn challenges. Mark is also a Visiting Scholar at University of California Berkeley where he was working with cities to find innovative ways to accelerate the adoption of new mobility technologies.

Prior to founding Smart Cities Lab, Mark served several different roles in the Obama Administration. He was a Senior Advisor in the White House Office of Management and Budget and a Senior Advisor in the White House Council of Environmental Quality. Mark also was a member of President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Task Force and served for three years as a senior member of the President’s Auto Task Force, where he worked on the historic restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler.

Mark also served as a Senior Advisor to U.S. Department of Transportation’s Secretary Foxx and a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology where he worked on issues related to technology and innovation. Mark is the architect of the Smart City Challenge that fundamentally changed the way American cities approach mobility.

He received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gold Medal as well as awards from the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office (Southern District) for his work on the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies, and the U.S. Department of Transportation for creating and executing the Smart City Challenge.

Mark’s nongovernmental service includes the Director and Assistant General Counsel at the Association of Global Automakers where he worked on policy development for advanced vehicle technologies. Mark practiced law for thirteen years in New York City at the law firm of Schulte Roth & Zabel, specializing in transactions, restructuring, litigation, and regulatory matters as they relate to environmental and energy issues. Mark attended Rutgers College and Seton Hall University School of Law.

Prashant Gulati

Head of Strategy – Faraday Future

Prashant is the Global Partner and Head of Strategy at Faraday Future (FF), a technology company building an electric connected shared mobility ecosystem in US and China. At FF, he is responsible for strategic planning, corporate development, and all global mobility initiatives. Prashant has been an investor, and partner at Moneta Ventures, the largest venture capital fund in the Sacramento region. He has 20 years of strategy, sales, finance, and engineering experience across tech and automotive sector in US, Europe, and Asia. He received his MBA from the Indian School of Business, and a Bachelor’s in Computer Science prior to that. He is a voracious reader with interests across several disciplines. Prashant lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.

May Russell

CIO, Ford Commercial Solutions – Ford

May Russell is a Technology Executive with a track record of delivering value and technology transformations to the enterprise, business units and the consumer.

May currently serves as CIO of Ford Commercial Solution LLC (Fleet telematics and data services); Global head of Transportation as a Service, Digital City Solutions, Data Monetization, and Tech Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures. She is charged with building a profitable technology offering that scales with global volume as well as creating best in class software engineering organization.

Prior to that role, May was the Global Head of Consumer facing emerging technologies. She lead a global organization of 500 working across four global software engineering labs (US, UK, China, India) as well as the Business Office: Strategy\Demand Mgt, PMO, Financials, Accounting, and Governance. The organization produces cutting edge consumer facing digital products and services that provide Ford with a leading edge as a mobility company. May has grown the organization to over 500 in less than two years, establishing best in class software engineering process, tools, and technologies while creating a vibrant workplace for a highly talented workforce. Under her leadership, the Ford and Lincoln app ratings grew to be among the highest rated among all OEM apps in each country across 3 continents.

May believes in driving consumer and company value by bringing leading and emerging technology ‘art of the possible’ to real world applications. She believes in delivering value through digital products in an agile and nimble fashion – fast is the new big! Furthermore, fostering craftsmanship and talent in software engineering is key in developing a highly motivated, passionate and creative workforce.

May started her career with Ernst and Young after graduating from the University of Michigan with a Computer Science degree. As a senior consultant with Ernst and Young, May led IT transformation programs in many industries including utilities and automotive.

May joined Ford Motor Company in 2002; she has been a leader in IT Software Delivery and Strategy in a variety of business functions such as Consumer facing technologies, Supply Chain, Marketing and Sales, Manufacturing, HR and Global Corporate Systems. She has global experience with leading teams in Asia Pacific, Americas, and Europe as well as leadership experience in building and motivating global diverse teams that successfully deliver complex enterprise solutions that provide a competitive advantage. She also has extensive delivery and strategic and operational IT leadership experience.

May has been a speaker and panelist in numerous conferences, including, TrustBelt City Solutions Revitalization, Midwestern Technology Leaders conference, and the Enterprise Wearable Conference. She has also published Ford wide blogs on technology

May serves as the K-8 Chief Mission Officer for Michigan Council Women in Technology (MCWT) as well as serving on the advisory board of the IT Women in Leadership (ITWIL) and Midwestern Technology Leaders. In those roles she has established technology summer camps for girls, a partnership with Girls Scouts and with universities to conduct events for Girls in Tech.

Samir Saini

Chief Business Officer – Mobi (Mobility Insight)

Samir is the Chief Business Officer for Mobi, a software company providing governments and businesses with the world’s first turnkey, AI-powered Traffic Management as a Service (TMaaS) platform to easily measure traffic performance across any road network, predict where/why congestion will occur, and prevent it before it emerges.

Samir is an urban technology leader with a proven history partnering with business and governments leaders to build smart and connected cities that improve quality of life. He has over 23 years of IT expertise in the government, public housing, energy, and hospitality sectors.

His career includes multiple CIO roles including the City of New York, City of Atlanta, Hartsfield-Jackson Int’l Airport, the Atlanta Housing Authority, MGM Resorts Int’l, and General Electric. He graduated from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and currently serves on their Board of Visitors.

Samir resides in Brooklyn, NY and enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with his family in New Jersey.