Behind the Scenes at the ACT Canada Unified Mobility Summit

Our Senior Program Manager, Stewart Slaymaker, recently attended the ACT Canada Unified Mobility Summit and presented about pointA’s ConsumersNext project in the Consumers Road Business Park Area. Here‘s what he saw while he was there.

I was recently lucky enough to attend the ACT Canada Summit, which this year was held in Kitchener-Waterloo, where I was joined by delegates from across Canada, including Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. With the Grand River Transit’s brand-new ION light rail service starting operation in June, Kitchener-Waterloo was a fitting location for this year’s conference.

I also spoke at the conference about our ConsumersNext project that we have been delivering through the Smart Commute program. I’ve spoken at events before, but never officially at a conference, so it was good to get this experience under my belt. If you ever get the chance to speak at a conference, then do it!

The conference was bookended by two tours – one of the ION system and the second of the University of Waterloo’s autonomous vehicle lab. Connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs) were a common theme during the conference, with several talks providing a variety of perspectives on the technology, future adoption and challenges.

Small driverless car at the University of Waterloo's autonomous vehicle lab
At the University of Waterloo’s autonomous vehicle lab

Delegates could also go on a guided bike ride in Kitchener to see its cycling infrastructure first-hand, or of Communitech, Waterloo’s innovation centre and home to many tech companies. At Communitech, the highlight was a Harry Potter themed space under the stairs, and a slide left by previous tenants, Google, that is technically used as a transportation device between floors!

Harry Potter themed space under the stairs at Communitech.
Harry Potter themed space under the stairs at Communitech
A big orange slide next to a staircase at Communitech's offices.
The ultimate rapid transit (for going downstairs at least!)

Besides those tours, I enjoyed hearing from TravelWise, the Region of Waterloo’s equivalent of the GTHA’s Smart Commute program, about their experiences and how they can leverage ION and Grand River Transit’s discounted transit pass program, as well as from Mobili-T and the Region of Waterloo’s communications teams. Both offered something a bit different from other talks – Mobili-T as a transportation management association in Québec City spoke about a TDM package they have developed and rolled out with developers, while the Region of Waterloo provided some practical tips and advice on social media and photography for effective communications of projects and campaigns.

Perhaps the most interesting session was the SNAP session, where talks were presented on curbside management, TDM and development, e-bikes, safety in school communities and CAVs in the GTHA-Waterloo corridor. This was delivered in the PechaKucha format, which is where the five presenters had to deliver 20 slides, each for 20 seconds, for a total of 6 minutes 40 seconds. It was enjoyable to see the quality, content and humour with which these short presentations were delivered, as well as the occasional loophole, like a slide that was duplicated so the presenter had longer to speak to it!

After all that, evening social events were very welcome, and rumour has it that some delegates even indulged in a little bit of karaoke late in the evening. It’s always good to reconnect with people from the Smart Commute program and others that you’ve worked with, as well as making new connections, and the social events certainly helped with that. We look forward to seeing where next year’s conference will be!

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