Aspen, Nashville, Omaha, and West Palm Beach partner with Coord to deploy smart zones.
We are excited to announce our selections for our first-ever Digital Curb Challenge! Drum roll please…
Over the coming months, we will be working with the City of Aspen, Nashville, the City of Omaha, and the City of West Palm Beach to develop and pilot Smart Zone programs tailored to the unique mobility needs of these cities. Each team brings a wealth of experience as changemakers in their communities and a shared desire to use technology to address some of our thorniest mobility challenges. If these past several months have taught us anything, it’s how creative and resourceful our cities and communities can be.
If you’ve been following along, we announced the Digital Curb Challenge earlier this year, inviting North American cities of any size to apply to partner with us to undertake a curb space management pilot program. This was a significant milestone in our mission to help cities actively manage their streets.
We envision a Digital Curb that is transparent, productive, flexible. By being transparent, it can improve decision-making for curb users and city staff alike. It is productive, serving more people, and a broader spectrum of the community, than we often see today. And it's flexible in that it can adapt to changing conditions in both the medium term, like growth in deliveries and active transportation, and in the short term - as we have seen more than ever as cities address dynamic demands on public space due to COVID-19. And this is really why we launched the Digital Curb Challenge: to make it easier to adapt and manage curb space based on dynamic needs.
Why Smart Zones?
Smart Zones make curbs more transparent. Instead of relying on memory and interpreting regulation signs, Smart Zones let delivery drivers use the mobile devices they already use every day to find nearby available loading zones, place a hold, and pay for time in them. This digital booking process improves transparency for cities too. City staff can access new information about when, where and how long drivers are loading, which supports data-driven policy and operational changes. For example, cities can use this information to create more loading space where it’s most needed.
Coord Driver (left) and Coord web platform (right) will enable commercial drivers to access Smart Zones and city staffers to monitor Smart Zone use
Smart Zones also provide cities with greater flexibility and promote more productive use of public space. Smart Zone availability, rules and prices are digitally communicated to drivers. When combined with demand-based pricing programs (Seattle’s is a great example), Smart Zones enable cities to adjust loading prices up or down to help ensure space is available for drivers when and where they need it. Digital communication of loading zone rules and availability also means cities have flexibility to adjust how curb space is used in response to policy changes, special events or emergencies without the hassle and expense of modifying all of the signage on the street.
Example of Curb Space Designated as a Smart Zone
Smart Zones create an opportunity for a city to generate revenue from curb users beyond individual parkers while offering them something valuable in return: a better curb service through access to digital location and availability information and a streamlined holding and payment process. This revenue can be reinvested in the community to promote mobility or other community goals.
And a Smart Zone program with Coord is really a building block for a city. Our comprehensive platform gives cities the data and tools to manage all their curbs, gaining insights about tradeoffs between alternative futures they envision. It helps a city and stakeholders build the curb management muscles that are important now, but become indispensable when autonomous vehicles become more common.
And we know technology isn’t deployed in a vacuum. For this reason, Coord works with our cities end-to-end on policy and program development, outreach, and the full lifecycle of what’s needed to ensure a technology really meets the needs of the community it’s serving.
How are the Pilot Cities Tackling the Curb?
The City of Aspen, an outdoor recreation mecca with a bustling downtown generating $1 billion in retail economic activity each year, is undertaking this pilot program to help streamline commercial deliveries serving the city’s many popular restaurants, retailers and other businesses.
Nashville, one of the most visited downtowns in the United States, will undertake this pilot to better coordinate access to its curb space as an initial step toward rationalizing policies for commercial users of the curb in order to support broader city goals around safety and sustainability.
Metropolitan Omaha, home to nearly a million residents, four Fortune 500 companies and thriving food and cultural scenes, is undertaking this pilot program to better coordinate access to its curb space for vehicles performing commercial loading in order to reduce congestion and safety hazards caused by double-parking.
West Palm Beach, a vibrant, growing waterfront city, is undertaking this pilot program to better coordinate access to its curb space for vehicles performing pickups and deliveries in order to reduce congestion and safety hazards in the Rosemary Square area.
Fostering a Curb Management Community
We were inspired by the level of interest the Digital Curb Challenge generated. To help foster these connections and amplify the learnings from the Digital Curb Challenge pilot programs, we are also bringing together nine other cities across North America as Digital Curb Challenge Cohort Cities: Vancouver, BC; Baltimore, MD; Sarasota, FL; Bend, OR; Norwalk, CT; Fort Smith, AK; Halifax, NS; Portland, ME; and Walnut Creek, CA.
These cities will have a front-row seat to the work that Pilot Cities are doing and will form a community of city leaders and staff who will share best practices, learnings and resources about curb management.
Smart Zones Pilot Programs: Just a Beginning
Pretty much every aspect of urban mobility touches the curb. Now more than ever, it’s recognized how essential mobility is to both our economy and our quality of life. We and our partners do this work because there is still so much to be done to improve the efficiency, safety, equity and sustainability of our transportation systems. We hope that, by working with cities, the private sector and members of the community, our tools empower cities to design and manage their curbs and streets to meet these goals.
We hope you’ll stay tuned for updates on our blog and the Coord newsletter as each pilot launches. If you work for a public agency and are interested in learning about bringing Smart Zones or the Coord platform to your city, you can request a meeting with a member of the Coord team here.
Featured blog post photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash