You may know that I love the concept of autonomous cars. I have have written countless articles on them and suggested that Park City is missing out on a huge opportunity in making testing the vehicle (snow and extreme sun make it difficult for the driverless car — which we have a lot of). With that in mind, Factor has an interesting article that touts 2025 as the time when self driving vehicles will be commonplace. While this type of story is commonplace now, it makes some interesting hypotheses. For instance, space required for parking is dramatically reduced because cars could park themselves within inches of other cars. Insurance would no longer be needed by drivers because people wouldn’t drive the car (it would be provided by the manufacturer). Police revenues would be down dramatically because these cars would not speed, park illegally, or run lights. Speed limits might not even be necessary because cars would communicate with each other to determine optimal speeds. People may not even need to own a car as autonomous cars would be like an instant “Uber” service.
Some of it is a little pie-in-the-sky but it does highlight that most long term predictions, based on today’s reality, don’t take into account the massive amounts of innovation taking place. Things have changed a lot in the last 10 years. Youtube is 10 years old. Uber was founded in 2009. Facebook was founded in 2004. Those three technologies have fundamentally changed the way most people interact with the world around them. If that much changes has happened in 10 years, what will happen in 25 years, in the year 2040 where most “long-range” planning seems to be focused on in Park City?
For instance if you believe in Global Warming studies, you should also probably believe that Park City will get very little snow by 2040. If you are planning for what Park City should be in 2040 and 2050, do you trust the growth statistics from the governor’s office saying that we will grow by 100% in population but ignore the global warming studies that say our resort community will likely be just a community by then? Then, if it’s just a slightly cooler version of Salt Lake, what does that mean? Why aren’t we focused on tomorrow — given a discussion of what tomorrow will likely really be like and find ways to meet those upcoming needs?
Take public transportation, especially bussing. In Salt Lake, which seems very public-transit friendly, only about 6% of residents take public transportation. Yet, here in Summit County we seem to look at it like a solution to our Carmageddon issues. Let’s say we do rise to have 6% of our population take buses, that still leaves 94% driving cars. How exactly is the bus going to solve the transportation issue when the impact is likely very minimal?
There are likely countless examples of this from affordable housing to economic development. The problem is that if we don’t generally accept that the future will be different, we will spend millions of dollars on solutions that will meet yesterday’s needs.