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About David

David Rouse is the Managing Director of Research and Advisory Services for the American Planning Association (APA) in Washington, DC. In this capacity, he leads APA's applied research efforts, including the Planning Advisory Service and programs such as Green Communities, Hazards Planning, and Planning and Community Health. David is a leader of APA's Smart Cities and Sustainable Cities initiative, with a particular focus on the implications of autonomous vehicle technology for cities and regions. Prior to joining APA, he was a principal at Wallace Roberts & Todd, a multidisciplinary architecture, landscape architecture, planning, and urban design firm based in Philadelphia. David is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and a registered landscape architect with nearly 40 years of experience in community planning and design.

Presentation abstract

How Can Geodesign Help Solve Big 21st Century Problems?

Civilization faces unprecedented challenges in the 21st century, such as climate change, technological disruption, and socioeconomic inequality. Common threads include uncertainty, disruption of societal norms, and disproportionate impacts on poor and vulnerable populations. For example, Paul R. Brown postulates that Hurricane Harvey demonstrates what steadily rising temperatures and resultant climatic "non-stationarity" hold in store for us—the inadequacy of accepted engineering and building standards to deal with an unprecedented extreme weather event.

This presentation will challenge the audience to consider how geodesign can help society address such big problems, drawing on the increasing power of digital technology and sophistication of tools such as scenario planning. It will focus on the projected impacts of autonomous vehicles, which, according to a Florida State University research team, "have the potential to transform transportation systems and land use patterns to a level not seen since the mass production of the private automobile." The complex variables that will determine the secondary impacts of this coming technology on our cities and regions include, among others, transportation costs, the balance between driven and driverless vehicles over time, private ownership vs. shared use, and electrification of the vehicular fleet. Access and equity for the poor and mobility impaired are major concerns. The presentation will provide an overview of what is currently known about the technology and its impacts, followed by an exploration of how geodesign and scenario planning might be used to inform policy and decision-making at scales ranging from the district to city and region.

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