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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jun. 13, 201905:10 AM EST

The Mendenhall Report: JAX Chamber seeking innovation with trip to Las Vegas

Could Sin City be a model for a future “Innovation Corridor” in Jacksonville? JAX Chamber thinks so.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

APTIV — a Dublin, Ireland-based maker of mobility and autonomous vehicle software — hit a milestone in Las Vegas.

The company announced in April that its 30 autonomous vehicles deployed throughout the city in a partnership with ride-hailing app Lyft reached 40,000 rides to 21,000 destinations since the program launched in May 2018.

Las Vegas is all-in on autonomous vehicles.

JAX Chamber CEO Daniel Davis thinks business leaders and city planners in Jacksonville should take note.

Davis recently announced Las Vegas will be the destination for JAX Chamber’s Annual Leadership Trip Sept. 18-20.

The 130 to 140 business and community leaders who will travel will focus on automated transportation and the city’s growing Innovation District.

Meeting with APTIV is a top bullet point on the JAX Chamber Vegas itinerary. In an interview Tuesday, Davis called the chamber’s interest in the city’s investment in smart city technology “very bullish” and not without reason.

Las Vegas was awarded a $5.3 million BUILD grant in December 2018. It is the same U.S. Department of Transportation program that awarded JTA and the city of Jacksonville $25 million for its autonomous and connected vehicle program.

Las Vegas is using its federal money to add to existing Innovation District infrastructure, deploying four autonomous shuttles, 100 connected vehicle onboard units and smart signal and pedestrian detection software in 20 public intersections.

The Las Vegas city charter adopted the Innovation District in 2017 and aims to become a “smart city” by 2025.

A public-private partnership with NTT Communications and Dell Technologies led to the purchase and installation of high-definition video cameras, sound and motion sensors and other internet-connected security in public intersections and transit areas.

Las Vegas is using the real-time data to improve transportation infrastructure.

Davis considers Las Vegas in the lead when it comes to smart city tech adoption. He hopes to return from the trip with a data and best practices sharing agreement between JAX Chamber and the City of Las Vegas to learn the methods of implementing the Innovation District and problems along the way.

“They’re about three to four years ahead of us (in implementation),” Davis said. “Hopefully, we can avoid some of the pitfalls they’ve seen in their testing.”

The information could make for a smoother transition when JTA integrates its Ultimate Urban Circulator program — a proposed 1.6-mile autonomous transit network modernization and extension of the Skyway.

It would take the monorail system to street level and travel to the sports complex and residential district on East Bay Street.

Detailed in its BUILD grant proposal submitted to the U.S. DOT, JTA envisions 15 autonomous vehicles using an extended 10-mile Skyway.

Trip philosophy

This year will mark JAX Chamber’s 39th annual leadership trip.

“There’s a common theme,” Davis said.

Matt Galnor, JAX Chamber chief public affairs officer, wrote in an email Tuesday that a past trip to Pittsburgh contributed to the emphasis on a pedestrian-friendly waterfront in Jacksonville’s new Downtown zoning overlay; a trip to Oklahoma City focused on riverfront activation.

Davis defended the leadership trip in a recent guest column in The Florida Times-Union.

“Every one of these communities has a desire to revitalize its downtown,” Davis said. “They understand what you need to do to make downtown livable. We want to add innovation to Downtown to help do that.”

A JAX Chamber delegation visited Washington, D.C., last week to meet with U.S. Department of Commerce and other officials to discuss grant opportunities for smart technology infrastructure.

Davis said he sees Las Vegas as a continuation of that effort.


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