As San Antonio endeavors to become the City of Tomorrow, what must local leaders do to prepare for this fast approaching future? The members of Leadership San Antonio Class 43, commemoratively nicknamed LSA300, took on this complex and multidisciplinary topic during their class day on Transportation and Infrastructure. The team focused on the future of highways and roads, mass transit, our airport, local military infrastructure, data networks and cyber security, and alternative transportation options.
The day began with a panel featuring Judge Nelson Wolff, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, VIA Board Chair Hope Andrade and VIA President/CEO Jeff Arndt. The panel gave the LSA cohort a high-level overview of the wide array of ways in which infrastructure impacts our city and addressed the regions current and future transportation challenges. The discussion ended with an interactive conversation on the multiple opportunities and initiatives that are underway at the City, County and State level to prepare Texans for the transportation and mass transit demands of the future. Recognizing that not all infrastructure is a utility or drivable, Thomas Bartlett, Deputy Director for the San Antonio Airport System, provided a briefing on the current state of air transportation and San Antonio International Airport’s future infrastructure and growth plans.
In planning the Transportation and Infrastructure class day, the team focused on making the subject engaging, approachable, and fun. Upon landing at Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland to meet with Col. Thomas K. Smith, Jr., commander of the Air Force Reserve Command’s 433rd Airlift Wing, the LSA cohort was given a mission briefing on the massive and important role that San Antonio’s military presence has on ensuring security globally, both physically and digitally. LSA then boarded the largest cargo plane in the United States Armed Forces, the C-5M Super Galaxy, for a tour and chat with the aircrew.
Jim Perschbach, president and CEO of Port San Antonio, welcomed the class to the Port over lunch at the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology (SAMSAT). David Monroe, founder of SAMSAT, gave the class a lively journey of technology’s evolution through a tour of his vast collection of history making tech gadgets. James Breeden, CTO of Jump Fiber, discussed cyber security and the role that San Antonio has played in developing the information technology that humans use worldwide today. John Dickson, Principal at the Denim Group, then led the LSA class through a demonstration of the impact of hacking over unsecured Wi-Fi, helping to remind everyone about the need for cyber security as part of our new everyday reality.
The class was then greeted by VIA staff at their headquarters, where Thomas Visco, co-founder of Austin based Glasshouse Policy, hosted a game centered on building the perfect street corridor. During the game, the class had to build a street that maximized mobility for people, vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians, while taking into consideration responsible land use and budgets. Through the use of an interactive computer-based model, the class gained an understanding of the realities faced by policy makers everyday when reviewing the trade-offs within a given community issue; whether it be roads, infrastructure, development code or planning. San Antonio Chamber Chair-Elect Paula Gold-Williams, President/CEO of CPS Energy, and Robert Puente, SAWS President/CEO, discussed the state of our utility infrastructure and the increasing role that technology will play in the delivery of power, water, and data to citizens. The VIA visit wrapped up with a brief tour of the VIA bus yard, featuring the largest CNG fueling station in North America and a trip through its giant bubble bath bus wash.
The day ended back at NuStar Energy’s Headquarters for a fun-filled evening showcasing future-tech including Teslas, Blue Duck Scooters and Microsoft holo lens VR gadgets. SAHCC Chair, Erika Prosper Nirenberg, Ken Nirenberg, Suhail Arastu of Musical Bridges Around the World, and Robert Miggins, CEO of Go Smart Solar, graciously drove LSA class members around the NUStar campus in their Teslas, while reps from Blue Duck Scooter showed off their fun and convenient transportation alternative. The day featured a raffle in support of Project Mend, a non-profit that celebrates the gift of mobility through the refurbishment, reuse and distribution of medical equipment and other assistive technology for individuals living with disabilities and illness. The raffle raised over $2,000 in donations from the class to Project Mend, supporting the ideal that mobility and independence are basic human rights.
With a clearer understanding of San Antonio’s current infrastructure and the realities of population growth and convergent technologies, it is the hope of LSA to bring these important topics and community leaders together in a manner that inspires engagement and action. Tomorrow is in the hands of today’s emerging leaders, we encourage you to reach out to a current or former LSA class member to gain their perspective on the topics that excite you.
By Juan Cano, Cano Development