New transportation technologies will reshape our cities: in Conversation with Jonelle Hanson

New transportation technologies will reshape our cities: in Conversation with Jonelle Hanson

Systematica has appointed Jonelle Hanson as Senior Transportation Consultant, with a focus on developing the transportation planning practice in the newly established New York City office.

Jonelle is an experienced transportation planner with 15 years of experience in transportation planning and business development and has experience working in the public and private sectors with cities and towns across the United States. Jonelle’s project highlights include technical lead on the Dallas CityMAP project, the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, and US 380 Feasibility Study in North Texas. Her work focuses on land use and transportation studies, transportation forecasting, and comprehensive planning.  With new transportation technologies entering the market, she focuses her time on the research and application of big data, as well as research into the effects of urban air mobility in the transportation planning practice.

Q: What are the main mobility challenges in your area of interest?

JH: Most of my work has been on the public side of transportation planning, working with cities and towns in developing transportation plans, long-range plans, and comprehensive plans. These are important guiding documents that deliver concise information on the future planning of the city. However, we’re now experiencing converging industries transforming how we once planned for future mobility within a city. Disruptive technologies, such as ride-sharing, E- Scooters, and autonomous vehicles (AV) will need to be woven into our current transportation network which has been mostly designed for the private automobile. The challenge is, as these technologies become available and begin to operate the need to update infrastructure will be important for their success. A city can provide a scooter, but if the roadway is laden with potholes riders will utilize the sidewalks, which is not ideal for pedestrian safety. As municipalities are updating their transportation plans to account for these technologies, the planning process will need to consider the current infrastructure and the necessary retrofits needed for the technology to provide safe, reliable, and efficient transportation.

Q: What is the importance of mobility advisory in new development / regeneration projects?

JH: The rapid advancement of innovative mobility technologies is bringing new challenges to our urban ecosystem.  These new transportation technologies will reshape our cities and how we live. Communication across industry during this stage of transportation transformation can allow us to see lessons learned from early adopters of technologies. This is where advisory can be of particular importance. Advisory in new development and regeneration projects can focus the planning on designing the project to the kind of place that’s to be desired by the community, then filling in with the appropriate transportation elements. An advisor can work with the community to understand their needs and draw from experiences on what’s working well in other communities.

Q: How did you come to join Systematica?

JH: Systematica approached me about my experience in the US as they were working to establish an office in the US. After spending some time getting to know the company and their approach to projects, I joined Systematica to help establish the New York office. My role will be to continue working with municipalities in transportation planning while tapping into 30 years of global experience in mobility planning and transportation engineering.

Our way of transportation planning has to change. Most urban issues are not technology problems, but urban issues we’ve been working to overcome, such as poverty, sustainability, equality, and quality of life. Disruptive technologies add another layer of uncertainty. We need to address plausible futures with different scenarios to evaluate the range of outcomes. I’m hopeful that with the challenges there will be better communication among public officials, private business, and the public.

Systematica has embraced the multi-disciplinary approach to planning, and the teams working on projects are multi-disciplinary by design. Systematica supports open communication by involving a variety of partners on projects and looking at the whole mosaic of transportation in the context of people. The extensive experience of having small teams working across the world on projects has allowed the best ideas forward and those ideas can be a framework for other communities.