Podcast: People Behind the Plans

Mark de la Vergne

What is mobility? It’s simply the ability to get somewhere, says Mark de la Vergne, chief of mobility innovation for the Mayor’s Office in Detroit, during his conversation with People Behind the Plans podcast host Courtney Kashima, AICP. But when it manifests in the real world, this essential facet inevitably presents challenges for all types of municipalities, from New York to Austin to Seattle. In Detroit’s case, those challenges have been built up over years of policy decisions, but Mark’s job is to alleviate pain points by bringing in new technologies and services.

In the last year, the city has embarked on a series of innovative pilot projects revolving around transportation solutions, such as bringing more car-share vehicles to Detroit's neighborhoods so residents living beyond the city's core have alternatives to car ownership. His big-vision goals include improving existing and adding new connected technologies to the city's infrastructure — not to drum up hype but to actually address safety and operational issues. Mark names empathy as a crucial aspect of his work, because knowing what kinds of frictions exist for different people around the city is key to serving all Detroiters.

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