As a New York City native, public transportation has been a central part of my life. It’s more than just a means of travel; it’s where life happens. This personal connection brings extra excitement to my conversation today with SEPTA’s Chief Innovation Officer, Emily Yates. Emily is not just a strategic leader; she’s a visionary, redefining how we perceive and interact with urban spaces.

In our enlightening discussion, Emily opens up about her approach to innovation. She challenges the traditional notion of innovation as being the first globally, advocating instead for pioneering within one’s own space. This perspective is especially poignant for Philadelphia, as Emily illustrates how the city embraces this ethos to redefine itself.

The heart of our conversation revolves around human-centered innovation. Emily passionately believes that the advancements in a city should improve the quality of life for all its residents, not just the privileged few. This approach is particularly relevant as we discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has exposed and amplified social inequities.

Emily shares how SEPTA uses technology and data for operational efficiency and as tools to address these deep-rooted inequalities. We delve into how spatial inequity within Philadelphia has been identified and addressed through innovative participatory budgeting driven by data and community input.

This episode isn’t just about the technicalities of transforming a city into a smart one; it’s a narrative of hope, inclusivity, and the power of innovative thinking to create spaces where everyone has a voice.

Name:  Emily Yates
Title: Chief Innovation Officer

Company: SEPTA

LinkedIn  | SEPTA | 

Emily Yates is a strategic leader who works to position cities as globally competitive by utilizing a systems approach to develop strategies, projects and programs that innovate at the intersection of sustainability, technology, and economic development.

As Chief Innovation Officer for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Emily works to grow a culture of innovation by incorporating sustainability principles and data-driven decision making into all aspects of SEPTA’s efforts to become a lifestyle transit network.