New generation of policymakers, planners needed to solve metro area traffic congestion

Liccardo, who also sits on the commission board, said reducing traffic congestion in the South Bay will require cities to add more housing units instead of simply focusing on job growth, and it might require regional incentives and penalties on cities.“We need to get people living closer to where they work,” Liccardo said.

Source: Highways to hell: Bay Area’s worst commutes ranked by MTC – SFChronicle.com

True for those who must be on site for their work. Not true for most knowledge workers who thanks to today’s information and communications technology — much of it innovated in the Bay Area. A new generation of policymakers and planners is needed that recognizes the potential of ICT to reduce the need for daily commute trips that substantially contribute to the enormous transportation demand that’s choking the Bay Area and other metros.

ICT to reduce commute trips and associated vehicle emissions takes on greater urgency as U.N. report calls for “aggressive action” to cool global climate

Not long after the first Earth Day in April 1970, a Los Angeles aerospace engineer as engineers are wont to do saw a problem and came up with a solution to fix it. The problem Jack Nilles saw in his daily drive to the office was bumper to bumper traffic and bad air quality. His solution: substituting telecommunications for commute induced transportation demand by establishing satellite offices in “bedroom communities” where people lived to avoid the trip to centralized commuter offices. The environmental benefit of the solution Nilles proposed nearly five decades ago takes on increased urgency with the publication of a report issued today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning of rapidly accelerating global warming.

Absent aggressive action, many effects once expected only several decades in the future will arrive by 2040, and at the lower temperature, the report shows. “It’s telling us we need to reverse emissions trends and turn the world economy on a dime,” said Myles Allen, an Oxford University climate scientist and an author of the report.

To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, the report said, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050.

Turning the global economy on a dime is challenging to say the least. Cutting motor vehicle emissions associated with commuting is one measure that could be implemented relatively quickly, especially considering today’s information and communications technology is far more advanced than when Nilles first came up with his idea in the early 1970s, thanks to the proliferation of Internet protocol-based telecommunications.

ICT innovators like Yahoo and IBM struggle with forces of decentralization they’ve unleashed

“Everyone I know is very upset,” says one employee, who like most interviewed asked to remain anonymous while discussing an employer. Some workers furiously began looking for new jobs. Others say they have stopped contributing to long-term projects because they aren’t sure whether they’ll be around in the future. “Source: qz.comThey can say “goodbye” to the best and brightest talent. Iike Yahoo and Best Buy, IBM is in deep trouble. Somehow that seems to create a “circle the wagons” reaction. But the connection between co-location and collaboration or innovation has NOT been proven. Many of the studies often cited in these arguments date back to the early 1990s when working at a distance was much more difficult.

Source: IBM’s recall of remote workers sounds like a death rattle. Say “goodbye” to the best and brightest. – Global Workplace Analytics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post by Global Workplace Analytics raises an excellent point that calls into question the value of information and communications technology (ICT) that makes collaboration possible without daily co-location and the commuting necessary to support it. It reflects the difficulty that even ICT innovators like IBM and Yahoo have coping with the society altering forces they’ve unleashed that make the commute-in office all but obsolete.

What Telecommuting Looked Like in 1973 – CityLab

Nilles’s solution to these contemporary concerns was telecommuting, but not quite telecommuting as we know it today—after all, this was before the advent of the Internet. He envisioned firms broken up into satellite offices, where employees could work remotely when they didn’t need to be physically present at headquarters.Instead of commuting to a central location downtown—and clogging up the area’s already congested streets—clerical workers would report to whichever office was closest to their homes to receive and complete assignments there. “Our primary interest, and the greatest impact on traffic and energy consumption, was reducing the commute to work,” Nilles says.

The authors wrote that “either the jobs of the employees must be redesigned so that they can still be self-contained at each individual location, or a sufficiently sophisticated telecommunications and information storage system must be developed to allow the information transfer to occur as effectively as if the employees were centrally collocated.” We know, with the benefit of hindsight, that both changes took place. (Emphasis added)

Source: What Telecommuting Looked Like in 1973 – CityLab

More than four decades after Jack Nilles penned these words (and years before the advent of today’s Internet), a “sufficiently sophisticated telecommunications and information storage system” now exists — thanks to the maturation and widespread adoption of information and communications technology. History’s stage is now set for a major reduction in daily commute trips to centralized, commute-in offices. That’s the primary message of my 2015 eBook Last Rush Hour: The Decentralization of Knowledge Work in the Twenty-First Century.