INTERVIEW: Autonomous vehicle technology will deliver little more than jamming roads with driverless, electric cars unless city authorities take action to ensure technology solves real world problems, the general manager of the LA Department of Transportation (LADOT) cautioned.

Seleta Reynolds (pictured) told Mobile World Live city authorities require a “different posture” to ensure smart city deployments improve the lives of citizens and deliver a “street that’s safe for everybody”.

She explained traffic forecasting models show autonomous vehicles “actually make things much, much worse”, a factor she explained highlights failings in the “people and the policy” rather than “the computers and the technology”.

This offers an opportunity for cities to “make sure that we move things in the right direction,” she said.

In the short-term, this will involve local governments adapting to “think more like a product company”, behaving in the way an activist investor would to ensure new products and services “that are enabled by mobile technology go to neighbourhoods in the city that might not ordinarily receive them”.

LADOT developed its own APIs and other code in a bid to tap into “an explosion of app-enabled mobility services from private companies”, Reynolds explained. However, she emphasised collaboration between local authorities, businesses and academia is key to effectively using mobile technology to “make people’s lives better”.

Click here to find out what other steps LADOT is taking around mobile technology and preparations for 5G.