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SXSW 2017 Interactive: top events for city and design geeks

Want to talk about self-driving cars? You’ll be in heaven.

shot of Sixth Street in Austin
Austin during SXSW 2015
Creative Commons

Each year, we grow more impressed by the sheer breadth and volume of information SXSW—particularly SXSW Interactive—has on offer. Perhaps it’s merely a reflection of the times, as technology becomes relevant to pretty much every subject under the sun.

Among those subjects are cities and the design that goes into them, as well as the important, sometimes neglected role transportation plays in the evolution of a city.

Below are some SXSW Interactive and Convergence panels and events we think Curbed readers will find more than worth their time. Did we miss something? Hit us up on the tipline or in the comments section below.

Friday, March 10

Interactive Opening Speaker: Cory Booker

11:00 a.m.–noon, Austin Convention Center Ballroom D

You can be sure New Jersey senator and former Newark, N.J., mayor Cory Booker, interviewed by Google’s Malika Saada Saar, will have plenty to say about cities and the many entities that affect them.

National Strategy for Transportation Data

3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown Salon G

Two representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation will discuss how the massive amount of transportation data being collected by connected technologies can be used to advance the “transportation revolution.”

America's Mayors: Holding the Line

5:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown Salon H

Mayors from Phoenix, Louisville, and the good ol’ ATX join The Texas Tribune’s Emily Ramshaw to discuss the impact of federal and state changes in policies regarding immigration, health care, criminal justice reforms, civil rights, LGBT rights, funding for social programs, and more—and how to maintain progress that has been made on the local level.

Saturday, March 11

Semi-Autonomous Cars: How to Train the Humans

9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m., Hilton Austin Downtown Salon G

The nitty gritty on how to get drivers to assess their risks and maintain attention in a semi-autonomous environment to advance already-won safety gains from such technologies.

Arena 3.0: Creating the Next Great American City

12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m., Austin Convention Center Ballroom D

NBA’s Sacramento Kings owner and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ranadivé and Sports Illustrated’s Mark McClusky will discuss the role sports teams and coliseums play as a catalyst for change in cities.

Organize the World: Design Your Life to Spark Joy

12:30 p.m.– 1:30 p.m., Austin Convention Center Ballroom EFG

Can we ignore the global power and cultural influence of Marie Kondo (“KonMarie”), author of bestselling tomes The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up? No, no, we cannot, nor should we. We should only hope to bask in the inspirational power of her revolutionary message.

Smart Cities Sound Off: The Future of Transportation

Austin lost out on last year’s Smart City Challenge sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation (the winner? Columbus, Ohio), but, according to DOT, "the challenge was built on the premise that the winning city would work with other government officials to help spread smart transportation technology throughout the U.S.” Here’s where we hear about how that’s working out.

When the Sharing Economy Is Taken Away

12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m., Hilton Downtown Austin Salon F

This is potentially our favorite panel, as it puts Austin at the center of the sharing economy debate, and we love the spotlight. Reps from SpredFast, Ride|Austin, and Shareable discuss the possibilities for the alternative economy on a local scale.

Building Bridges When Others Want to Build Walls

12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown Salon G

Elected officials, community leaders, and immigration experts will discuss the economic, social and cultural impact extreme immigration policy will have on communities.

Disrupting Local Government Mayoral Meet Up

2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m., JW Marriott Room 210

Oklahoma City and Austin mayors discuss how civic participation can have a big impact on cities and how they’re governed.

Connected Vehicles in the Real World

3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown Salon G

Representatives from cities selected for the federal Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program in 2015 discuss the results to date.

Elevator to Hyperloop: Policy Advancements

5:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown Salon F

A panel discussion of the often overlooked role of politics in the creation and advancement of innovative transportation.

Self-Driving Cars and the Policy Maze

5:00-6:00 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown Salon G

Regulators, technologists, researchers, and members of Congress do a deep dive into what regulating the self-driving car landscape might look like.

Sunday, March 12

What Is a Smart City: Technologies & Challenges

9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m., 3Ten Austin City Limits Live

First of all, we like the idea of this morning panel in a swank nightclub. Second, we love the insouciant dismissal of the need for a question mark after what is clearly a question. To be serious, this looks to be a lively discussion of the ways technology can make the actual lives of people in the cities where it’s applied better.

Policy Challenges to Sharing Your Home

11:00 a.m.–noon, Hilton Austin Downtown Salon H

Ah, the sharing economy—one of the most frequent areas of civic dissatisfaction and discussion. This panel will address the various regulations that might be down the line for short-term rentals.

Five Cities Are Eliminating Racial Inequity, You Can Too

5:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m., Hilton Downtown Austin Salon H

A panel on the program Racial Equity Here, an initiative focused on five cities (Albuquerque, Austin, Grand Rapids, Louisville, and Philadelphia) committed to improving racial equity and advancing opportunity for all.

Swiping Left on Civic Engagement

5:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m., Hilton Downtown Austin Salon G

This presentation, which sounds better than its questionable name, will explore new ways of thinking about “design principles for civic engagement, and how government, activists, philanthropy, and innovators can bring them to life with new tools.”

Monday, March 13

The American Housing Crisis: Can Data Help?

11:00 a.m.–noon, Hilton Downtown Austin, Salon H

City leaders from Cambridge, Mass., Denver, and Milwaukee join Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Stacy Gillett discuss using data and evidence to address rising homelessness and declining affordable housing.

Innovation Duplication: Building an InnoEcosystem

3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown Salon F

Experts including Curbed’s very own Urbanism Editor Alissa Walker will discuss ways cities can develop, attract, and retain top talent, incentivize innovation, and in general make their city the next big thing.

Make A Movement: Act-A-Thon for Civic Change

5:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown Salon F

We’re not entirely sure how much this quasi-meetup is going to address creating change on a local level, but it sounds like a place to get motivated by new ideas that one could apply to that kind of project.

Tuesday, March 14

The Rise of Self-Driving and Connected Cars

3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m., Old School Bar

Industry and government officials discuss how transportation technology can “dramatically improve safety, sustainability, and accessibility.” Appropriately, in a bar!