Detroit Aims To Revive Itself As National Center for Mobility Innovation

Mark de la Vergne – Detroit’s Mobility Innovation Chief – seeks partnerships with public and private investors to revive the city as a national center for mobility innovation. In his position, he is charged with deploying mobility solutions in the city, including developing a mobility plan to address the needs of city residents and working to secure funding for those initiatives.

“We are constantly thinking through how we can possibly build a bigger potential market,” stated de la Vergne. “That might mean integrating different transactions to partnering with other cities in the state or region in an innovative way.”

With 61 percent of employed Detroit residents having to travel outside the city for their jobs, Detroit’s need for improved mobility is obvious. Unreliable transportation for the city’s residents precludes many from finding jobs in the suburbs – adding to the city’s economic difficulties.

One example of mobility innovation in the region is the American Center for Mobility – a non-profit testing and product development facility for future mobility – which recently opened near Detroit to test, verify and self-certify connected and automated vehicles. The Center is a joint initiative with the State of Michigan founded in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the University of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan and Ann Arbor SPARK.

In 2017, the city received nearly $2.2 million from the Federal Highway Administration to enable it to deploy technologies such as vehicle-to-infrastructure communication networks in four corridors to help improve traffic flow. The city also received a $200,000 Knight Foundation grant to develop a strategy on how to best use smart city technologies and the Internet of Things to benefit all residents.