Michigan’s former transportation chief has some advice for wannabe smart cities

After more than three decades maintaining and upgrading Michigan’s transportation systems, the state’s former head of transportation division (Michigan Department of Transportation, or MDOT), Kirk Steudle, has seen it all. Working with partners, big and small, and tackling problems, also big and small, Steudle has been on the front lines of smart city dreams and disappointments — not to mention witnessing the disruptions in the automotive world, with three of the world’s biggest automakers right in his backyard…

“I hate the term smart cities,” Steudle said. “It implies that if you’re not promoting it, you’re being dumb. And it’s more than cities. It’s communities and a transportation network that isn’t just one geographical space.”

Steudle points out that planners need to emphasize the interconnectedness of mobility solutions with community goals, whether or not those solutions are perceived of as being high-tech.