Detroit-Windsor is a region unlike any other and provides a unique bi-national advantage, building on its strong history and relationship of cross-border commerce and trade, these American and Canadian cities have come together to capitalize on the growing technology and mobility clusters on both sides of the border.
Not only is Detroit-Windsor well-positioned geographically—at the heart of the densest cluster of the automotive and mobility industry in North America—the region has the unique ability to align more than a century of manufacturing excellence and automotive supply chain expertise with today’s leaders in academia and technology innovation.
In recent years, Detroit and Windsor have created a number of bi-national partnerships that facilitate the region’s growth as the most powerful mobility node in North America.
This region is so unique the World Economic Forum selected the area to support a bi-national pilot on the Future of Mobility. The goal is to enable greater accessibility to places of employment, facilitate the movement of people, showcase new technologies, promote green and sustainable community practices, and foster economic growth in both the U.S. and Canada.
This partnership explored Seamless Integrated Mobility Systems, or SIMSystems, as a way to rectify the inefficiencies of the existing transportation system, specifically exploring transportation spanning multiple modes and geographies. A SIMSystem connects and integrate disparate modes of transportation by creating interoperability across the network. Once realized, a SIMSystem can enhance overall network efficiency and enables faster, safer, cleaner and more equitable mobility.
To help advance this initiative, Detroit, Ann Arbor and Windsor have come together to serve as a pilot area and agreed to focus on three key areas:
- Establish the foundational requirements for a digital integrated mobility platform
- Pilot data-driven community engagement mechanisms on an integrated, multimodal scale
- Analyze the role of public-private partnerships and corporate leaderships in launching disruptive mobility technology.
This partnership has also focused on a bi-national autonomous commuter shuttle program, which explores how to assist cross-border employees from the Henry Ford Health System who commute between Canada and the U.S. on a daily basis—a project that is still ongoing. This year, WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation (WE EDC) and the Detroit Mobility Lab also announced a partnership aimed at supporting companies on both sides of the border to expand into new markets. Leveraging long-standing relationships and proximity to industry stakeholders, the partnership provides one-on-one support to CEOs and founder working on foreign direct investment projects, provides access to business development and networking opportunities.
To fuel this growing sector, both Detroit and Windsor are committed to attracting talent to the region and the industry—continuously looking to recruit and develop the world’s best and brightest.
Earlier this fall, along with U.S. Consulate General in Toronto and Major League Hacking, WE EDC hosted a hackathon meant to inspire cross-border tech talent and international collaboration in solving mobility challenges. Crowd-sourced to more than 400 students, BorderHacks challenged students to rethink existing transportation systems and unlock how to create more efficient and equitable mobility solutions.
With participants from University of Windsor, St. Clair College, and Wayne State University, students’ projects covered a wide range of mobility issues including smart infrastructure, healthcare, cybersecurity, and entrepreneurship. The winners developed apps to model vehicle traffic, combine multi-transportation methods, detect COVID-19 infection probability and green travel, among others. These projects will help fully maximize the investment of the Rt. Honourable Herb Gray Parkway and the new Gordie Howe International Bridge, as well as the proposed new span at the Ambassador Bridge site.
Additionally, to support this growing and flourishing ecosystem on both sides of the border, Detroit-Windsor announced another partnership with Women in Mobility which focuses on creating an inclusive and diverse community and encourages more women to join this underrepresented sector. “Our US partnerships are about taking a proactive step to leverage the region’s strategic location with Detroit, Michigan. We often talk about the Windsor-Essex region benefitting from our proximity to Detroit and the partnerships to date leverage our combined strengths and assets built around Automobility.” Matthew Johnson, Director Automobility and Innovation, Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation.