The National League of Cities has released a first of its kind autonomous vehicle regulatory guide for cities. AV technology is advancing faster than many cities expect, and faster than many managers will be able to handle their adoption. The report notes that:
“With the many benefits that AV technology promises, including reduction in traffic deaths, increased mobility for the disabled and seniors, reduced congestion, and enhanced connectivity for all demographics, cities have a unique opportunity to be proactive to not only engage in smart planning for AVs, but to also shape the policy around AVs to ensure such benefits are fully realized.”
The report suggests that cities:
- Develop their own safety and privacy guidelines related to AVs. Transparency will be the key to a successful innovation, the report suggests.
- Data will have real value to city management. “Cities should consider their data needs, and the relationship they seek to build with AV manufacturers as well as transit platforms and other mobility providers.”
- While federal AV policies are likely to be focused on safety, local and state governments have great opportunities to shape policy on how AVs shape our communities. “Cities have an opportunity to come together and lobby their state governments to advance their concerns around the safe operation of AVs in their communities, including insurance requirements and local approval of any proposed AV testing in a city.
- Look at procurement policies now to avoid future issues with the new technology. “Cities should assess their current procurement policies, and look specifically at whether these policies might inadvertently erect any roadblocks to purchasing the technology and smart infrastructure necessary to support AV deployment.”
- Policy coordination and development is going to have to be multi-disciplinary. “With technology like AVs, cities need to get the right people to the table, which includes urban planners, public works, information technology, procurement policy, and law enforcement. Modifications to existing codes may be appropriate, or cities may have to think about the development of a new autonomous vehicles or smart infrastructure code.”
- Be open to dialogue with residents and don’t assume they want AVs. “Cities should engage in an open dialogue between all their residents and respond to varying levels of acceptance of this technology.”
- New infrastructure will be needed, make sure it is not left off the table as AVs roll in. Cities should “link funding with new technologies to additional funding for capital improvements as well as existing maintenance.”
- Data and analysis will become a bigger part of city management—be prepared. “The data processing requirements needed for cities to take advantage of the data being generated within them is often out of reach of many small and mid-sized cities. Partnering with local academic institutions has given many towns and cities affordable access to the data storage and processing ability they need.”
(Note: scholars, like myself, here at the UO are glad to work with cities interested in exploring this issue.)