Dealing with Incoming Innovations

A method to deal with new, disruptive new mobility services that reach your city. You may get petitioned by constituents, asked permission by an operator or they may just show up (and ask forgiveness later).

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Innovation and disruption in transportation are accelerating, meaning that you will be required to respond to new ideas regularly.

A method will help you defuse the pressures of public opinion, politics, operators, media and vested transportation interests. Without such guidance, you risk producing an erratic pattern of decisions that don’t advance your policy goals.


The City of Boston was inundated with pitches from startups and corporations to deliver smart city solutions. It led to disperse pilots and a growing lack of accountability and clear strategy.

The city published its Smart Cities Playbook in 2016, explaining how the city expects to interact with the market and what it is looking for. It also released a Smart Cities RFI, inviting providers to submit information to the city – and releasing all 100 submissions to the public. 

This process allowed Boston to regain the initiative, align internal stakeholders as well as provide clear public messaging.

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Clarify primary policy goals

What are the primary policy goals for new mobility services? These could be ‘a car free city’ or ‘reduced micro-particle pollution’ or ‘Vision Zero’

Clarify secondary policy goals

Secondary goals are those that often influence how we act on primary goals. They may include economic development e.g. ‘buy local’ or ‘support startups’; vested interests e.g. ‘don’t disrupt local retail deliveries’.

Design core workflow

Describe how information should be gathered, decisions be taken, what’s made public. This playbook provides some good workflows to adapt.

Try scenarios

Test the method against some bluesky scenarios like magic carpets to make sure they work.


Be upfront about your method and provide formal channels.

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