For this episode we’re doing something a little different. We’re taking you on the ground to Lake Nona Medical City in Orlando, Florida. First proposed in 2005, the city was built from the ground up with a new first-class medical school as its anchor – the UCF College of Medicine. Since that time several new nationally recognized healthcare institutions have opened their doors in Lake Nona, including: Nemours Children’s Hospital, the University of Florida Research & Academic Center and College of Pharmacy, the UCF Lake Nona Cancer Center, and soon a new HCA hospital. This convergence of medical and scientific knowledge is paired with a master-planned community focused on long-term health and wellness.
I was there in February for the Lake Nona Impact Forum, and saw firsthand this unique intersection of medical science and healthy living. Join me as we talk to leaders that are making this forward-thinking community of the future possible.
Senator Bill Fr…: You’re listing to A Second Opinion, your trusted source engaging at the intersection of policy, medicine, and innovation and rethinking American health. For this episode, we’re doing something a little different. We’re taking you on the ground to Lake Nona Medical City in Orlando, Florida. First proposed in 2005, the city was built from the ground up with a new first-class medical school as its anchor, the UCF College of Medicine.
Senator Bill Fr…: Since that time, several new nationally recognized health care institutions have opened their doors in Lake Nona, including Nemours Children’s Hospital, the University of Florida Research and Academic Center and College of Pharmacy, the UCF Lake Nona Cancer Center, and soon, a new HCA hospital. This convergence of medical and scientific knowledge is paired with a master-planned community focused on longterm health and wellness.
Senator Bill Fr…: I was there in February for the Lake Nona Impact Forum and saw firsthand this unique intersection of medical science and healthy living. Join me as we talk to leaders that are making this forward-thinking community of the future possible. I’m your host, Senator Bill Frist. Welcome to A Second Opinion.
Gloria Caulfiel…: Welcome to Lake Nona, everybody. Welcome to the eighth annual Lake Nona Impact Forum. What is this forum all about? Two-and-a-half days of content, some of the most provocative material that we could find, 75-plus speakers, 325 delegates, 25 advisory board members, and 30 diverse sessions. We simply provide the venue. We curate some of the most fascinating, smartest people that we can find and then we get out of the way to provide the space for authentic transformational conversations to happen.
Gloria Caulfiel…: The Impact Forum is this multisensory experience. Allow yourself to take it in. Thoughtfully curated food, movement opportunities starting tonight, incredible musical performances, meditation, and interesting technology: You will encounter a breadth of topics to expand your thinking on things that are not likely to be part of your everyday profession. That’s okay. It is at the intersection of diverse disciplines where the real innovation occurs.
Senator Bill Fr…: You just heard Lake Nona Institute director, Gloria Caulfield, kicking off the annual Lake Nona Impact Forum, which has been held every year in Lake Nona since 2012. I was here for the very first forum and I’ve had the opportunity to watch this one-of-a-kind community grow. Seeing the seeds that were planted then, I knew the convergence of health thought leadership with clinical leadership with an engaged community was something very special.
Senator Bill Fr…: You’re about to hear from Dr. Deborah German, founding dean of the UCF College of Medicine, who explains how Lake Nona became a center of excellence and science in record time.
Senator Bill Fr…: Lake Nona is a 17-square-mile area right next to the Airport Orlando, probably 20 minutes, I guess, to the center of Orlando. This was just fields when I was here about 12 years ago. It was just fields, that was it.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: Cow pastures.
Senator Bill Fr…: Cow pastures, that’s right. Today, you use the words “medical city,” you mention the other hospitals that are here. Give our listeners a flavor for what this area is today, sort of a sense of time in place.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: Okay, well, we used to call it and I still call it a “medical city,” but it’s emerging into an aerotropolis. That may be a new word for some. We are a metropolitan area that includes a globally-relevant airport and with the kind of transportation that’s coming in the future, the airport will be part of our medical city, it will be one of the modes of travel. As you know, Orlando is connected to pretty much the rest of the world.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: What we have here, a brand new state-of-the-art Nemours Children’s Hospital, brand new VA, the VA located its National Simulation Center here. They were trying to understand. My understanding is they narrowed it down to Palo Alto, near Stanford-
Senator Bill Fr…: Good place, yep.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: … or here. They picked here. There was a reason they picked here. We have that, we have our teaching hospital, which will open in November, a cancer center, and there’s more.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: This is becoming a place for health and wellness. There’s a GuideWell Innovation Center, Florida Blue has built it, and it’s an incubator for new companies that are attached to health and wellness. The Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Center is located here. KPMG has built their Global Conference Center here. I think they’re bringing in a thousand people a week from the KPMG enterprise across the globe to learn in a healthy environment.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: The United States Tennis Association has built its national headquarters here. We have the largest tennis facility in the world for use by the tennis greats and for use by ordinary peons like myself and everyone can play tennis there. It’s fabulous.
Senator Bill Fr…: Where did this vision come from?
Jim Zboril: I think the vision was a bit of a compass heading and I think it’s, like anything, to be innovative, you have to adapt and you have to take opportunities as they come. The compass heading really was to create a great place and to do some fundamental things around education and job creation. I think those fundamental drivers, our compass headings, I think, have allowed us to position ourselves around certain things like where we are now by focusing on education and job formation. We’ve been able to move into health and wellness from medical and then we’re moving into human performance as even a greater overriding umbrella.
Senator Bill Fr…: That was Jim Zboril, senior managing director at the Tavistock Group, the company behind the creation of the medical city and surrounding master-planned community.
Senator Bill Fr…: Now, we’ll hear from one of Lake Nona’s own residents, Natalia Foote, on how life in Lake Nona has affected the health and wellness of her and her family.
Senator Bill Fr…: You moved here five years ago. What had you heard about the place in terms of deciding to move here?
Natalia Foote: Well, we had moved in the area, so right next to Lake Nona. That was 10 years ago in 2008.
Senator Bill Fr…: From where? Where were you?
Natalia Foote: Winter Park. We went to Winter Park.
Senator Bill Fr…: Where were you from before that?
Natalia Foote: Oh, from Miami. South Florida. Born and raised in Miami, so I’m a Florida girl. Came up here, went to UCF, stayed around. Lived in Winter Park, got married, and we kept hearing about Lake Nona, so we looked at a home near Lake Nona and that’s what we purchased first. Then about five years after living there, we kept seeing Lake Nona grow, we kept hearing what a great community it was and we decided we were going to build within the neighborhood.
Senator Bill Fr…: Then now five years later, where are you in terms of assessment, evaluation? Did that, what you thought at the time, was that realized?
Natalia Foote: Yes. It lived up to every expectation I had. I came in wanting a sense of community, for my boys to have friends, for me to have friends, and a sense of general health and wellbeing. When I came, I wasn’t a yoga instructor. I was a mom. I was a former teacher. I came to the community. I sometimes wonder, “Was it the community? Was it myself? Was it just growth?” But yes, I decided I was going to explore more into yoga. I wanted to get more into fitness. I started meditating and things just snowballed as far as my health, my wellness.
Natalia Foote: My family is a very strong family unit and sure enough, we have the community where we have friends and I feel like my friends, my children’s friends, their parents are watching over my kids so it seems and it feels like it’s a small town. Yeah, it has definitely lived up.
Senator Bill Fr…: Some of the other things that make this community special: It’s the first gigabyte community in Florida and the first community in the United States to be designated a Cisco Iconic Smart+ Connected community. 40% of the land is conserved green space and boasts more than 40 miles of trails.
Senator Bill Fr…: The population is highly educated. 84% of residents have college degrees and the community is home to A-rated public schools and educational facilities from pre-K to PhD. There are over 12,000 onsite employees and millions of square feet of clinical institutional and laboratory space, which is still growing with the pending addition of a teaching hospital.
Senator Bill Fr…: Was that three people initially, or say 15 years ago, or five people or 10 people? What does it take to create an area that is 17 square miles, a community, a collection, a collaborative center around health, wellbeing, a better life, dreams being realized?
Jim Zboril: Just what came to mind when you said that is there was this old commercial and I don’t remember even what it was, I think it was some hair care product or something and they go, “Well, they told two people and then they told two people.” It was like all this multiplication in effect. That’s what it takes. It’s a spreading of the mission because one person can’t do it. It takes an army.
Jim Zboril: It did start with a handful of people back in 2004 when we were talking about moving forward with the university and trying to get a medical school approved and sitting there thinking, “Well, here we are in Orlando. Are we going to be able to attract the best and brightest in the world to come here?” We thought, “Yeah, we think so,” but you had to get that first person and then you had to get the second then the fourth and the 20th and the hundredth.
Senator Bill Fr…: People refer to the School of Medicine here, but in particular to you as an individual and as somebody who led, who took big risks in coming to a place where it just didn’t exist and then you defined a big vision, really big, that a lot of people thought was impossible. Walk us through a little bit, that personal journey in terms of the last decade for you.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: I’m not sure who said this, but things are only impossible until somebody does them. I like to think that nothing’s really impossible. This was not impossible.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: The way I looked at it, I had never built a medical school before, I had never built a medical city before, but when I thought about it, there were more than a hundred medical schools across the country. I went to Harvard. Somebody built Harvard and they built it a long time ago, so if they could do it a long time ago, shouldn’t I be able to do it now? Somebody should be able. I knew that it wasn’t impossible because it had already been done elsewhere. For me, it wasn’t as big a risk as I think people who are afraid might think so. I can talk myself into things if I just think through them carefully, so I knew that we could build a medical school here.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: We had a university that had grown. Our university is about 53 years old, I think 56 years old, and it’s one of the largest universities in the country. In my mind, this is a university that knows how to grow. Check. It’s not a university that’s been the same size for the last 50 years because that university doesn’t know how to grow and I’m going to have trouble there. It’s in a city with a big airport. Check. This new medical city is right next to the airport. Great. I don’t have to build an airport to become a global destination. Check.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: Another thing about the university: It was founded to supply engineers and scientists to the Space Coast. Yes, science and technology hardwired into the DNA of this university.
Senator Bill Fr…: Yep, foundational. Yeah.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: Check, check. If you’re going to be a top-tier medical school, you have to have top science.
Senator Bill Fr…: Yep, got to have it. Yep.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: I looked here and I said, “The bones are good.”
Senator Bill Fr…: But you brought a big team of consultants, five or six, a big team with you, didn’t you?
Dr. Deborah Ger…: No. Here’s the problem: It was really laughable, but I learned something. It was just me, I didn’t even have an assistant. My plan was to go to my friends at the Harvard Macy Program and leaders all around the country and put together a national think tank and create the ideal medical school that would be the envy of every medical school on the planet to put it together, so then we pay our 25,000, I do my calculations, and I realize I have 90 days to get the first draft in and I realized those other people who interviewed for the job and said, “It couldn’t be done,” they were actually right. Then I thought, “Oh, my gosh.” I couldn’t even get a meeting, a single meeting of all of these national experts in 90 days.
Senator Bill Fr…: No, of course not.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: What did I do? I put together the people who were already here, none of them had ever worked at a medical school, none of them were MDs: a philosopher, the biomedical scientist, people like that. The president of the university took me out to lunch one day with his cardiologist and we just had lunch and his cardiologist offhandedly said to me, “We’re so excited that you’re going to bring a new medical school to our community. If there’s anything I can do to help.” I looked at him. I said, “What are you doing this afternoon?”
Senator Bill Fr…: That’s right.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: He said, “Well, today is my day off.” I said, “You’re on the Curriculum Committee.”
Senator Bill Fr…: I love it, I love it now. Yep.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: What I ended up with was about a 68-person committee composed of people in the community who were interested and we put together this curriculum and here’s what I learned, that it was better than the national think tank, because I knew something about medical education, so I could say, “Well, these are the forward-thinking ways,” but they knew nothing, so they brought unbelievably creative ideas to the table because they didn’t know what others would say. “Oh, you can’t do that.”
Senator Bill Fr…: Yep, “Can’t be done.” Yeah, no, exactly, that whole diversity of thought. They didn’t know what they didn’t know and you could dream big and you could pull those resources.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: That’s how it happened. Then gradually, I mean, it was hard to recruit people at first, I have to say it was hard, but when you share the dream, you have a green field, and everybody who I brought here came because they wanted to build it better.
Senator Bill Fr…: They had a reason.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: They’d been at excellent medical schools trying to do something innovative that “We’ve always done it this way” crowd wouldn’t let them do.
Senator Bill Fr…: You were able to really whiteboard it and then make it happen.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: Exactly.
Senator Bill Fr…: Buying into something bigger than yourself is what we all want to do and we do it in many, many different ways.
Dr. Deborah Ger…: That’s right.
Senator Bill Fr…: It does take somebody such as you painting the vision, which is hard to do. I mean, that’s hard. It may be easy for you, but it’s hard to do coming in.
Senator Bill Fr…: I know it’s not all health and wellness, but the people who have lived in the neighborhood and in the community here, people do tend to come back and come back to the words of “wellness” and “wellbeing” and “better health” and “I came here because that was on my mind, I knew it was important. I wanted to be with my family. I wanted them to share those values.” What is that role of health and wellbeing here?
Jim Zboril: Again, it’s a fundamental ingredient. Like we mentioned education, it’s a fundamental ingredient of the construct of what this place is. It comes back to the people. We, in essence, are place-makers, so we help set the table. We can do things to maybe bend the curve, we can do things purposeful to hopefully affect better outcomes, but ultimately, it’s about the people, right, and then making the choice.
Jim Zboril: We don’t ever want to be Big Brother. We want to provide you with a set of ingredients and allow you to do what you want to do. I think the health and wellness piece, for instance, for us, we do think we can make a difference with design. We do think design matters in that. We were chatting a little earlier about some of your role in design.
Senator Bill Fr…: Here, you see sidewalks. You see these little pocket parks. That takes design and planning.
Jim Zboril: It takes thought, right? But there’s parks in other places, right? We like to think, “Well, we do them a little better.” We have the pride of authorship that our parks are nice, but everybody has parks, but it’s stringing together this set of ingredients that creates this unique sort of set of offerings, right?
Senator Bill Fr…: Right, yeah.
Senator Bill Fr…: Another unique part of this community is the Lake Nona Life Project, a study that aims to crack the code to lifelong health. Any adult over 18 who lives or works in Lake Nona is encouraged to participate. Natalia tells us more.
Natalia Foote: The Lake Nona Life Project is a longitudinal generational study. I’m going to get the words wrong, but I know that it’s a study that’s going to measure my health and wellness and then over time, I believe you have to be 18 years or older, then they’ll measure my children’s generation, their health and wellness, and track us all and just to see what health and wellness how we’re doing. I believe if they find something like if there was a population that is having an issue with sleep or with stress, provide some interventions and do some sub-studies out of that. I think that they’re modeling it after the Framingham …?
Senator Bill Fr…: Framingham Heart Study.
Natalia Foote: Heart Study.
Senator Bill Fr…: Which is a huge study. I’m in the field of heart disease and heart treatment and it is the classic study, the epidemiologic large population health study that has been invaluable, invaluable, and the study of heart disease and treatment. You described it, I think, very, very well. Do they do annual assessments of some sort?
Natalia Foote: I believe it’s every two years.
Senator Bill Fr…: Every two years?
Natalia Foote: You just fill out a little blurb online, let them know how you feel, what you’re doing.
Senator Bill Fr…: Yeah, but there’s a lot of good data that relates to access to green and to parks, to trees affects emotional health and even spiritual health. Any thoughts on that or any just observations within your own family?
Natalia Foote: Yes. To get out into nature reminds us of who we are, of where we are, and the green spaces we have provide a beautiful contrast against our sunsets, so hopefully you get a chance to see one of our sunsets because they’re pretty magical. There’s a lot of color in the sky and, well, there’s grass on the Earth, so there’s this connection, both to the grounding and to above.
Senator Bill Fr…: Yeah. If you hadn’t moved here, and this is purely hypothetical-
Natalia Foote: Mm-hmm (affirmative), for sure.
Senator Bill Fr…: … but if you hadn’t moved here, as you went down the list, would you be a yoga instructor? Would you be coming directly here from yoga today? How centered around health and wellbeing would your life be if you hadn’t moved here?
Natalia Foote: If I hadn’t moved here?
Senator Bill Fr…: Purely hypothetical.
Natalia Foote: Hypothetical, exactly. Well, I don’t know. Obviously, it’s a hard question. I think that health and wellness was always something that piques my interest, but I don’t know if had the accessibility to it, if I wasn’t as aware of what was around. With the Lake Nona Life Project, they give us information on what they’re learning.
Senator Bill Fr…: There’s a lot written about Lake Nona as being at the top handful of planned built communities around health, wellbeing, emotional health, spiritual health, all of that coming together. It is an experiment, but it sounds like somebody such as you who’s really living here, it’s actually happening.
Natalia Foote: I think so. I believe that it is actually happening. It’s something that it’s intangible because it becomes just a part of your life, so having these beautiful walkable trails invites you to walk.
Senator Bill Fr…: Tell me about your kids. Where do they go? They’re young, but do they go to school?
Natalia Foote: Yes, they do. Well, now they’re eight and 10 and they do. Their school is a little over half a mile, 0.6 of a mile right away from the house. We have bikes, we walk, sometimes I drive, it happens, but, it’s nice because I feel like in the morning when we do walk or when we do ride our bike, you see the neighborhood waking up and you see everyone doing the same.
Senator Bill Fr…: Early on, there was a lot of discussion about the technology, the connectedness, the social connectedness, but also the practical fiber optic cables being laid and planned out very early on before the commercial or the residential structures were built. Is that a reality or …? The Internet is allegedly 200 times faster than my Internet back at home.
Natalia Foote: It’s hard because this is all I know, but it’s when you get out of the neighborhood or when connect to somebody’s wifi outside of the neighborhood that you go, “Oh, no, this is different.” We’re just used to it now. We’re used to fast Internet.
Senator Bill Fr…: How has the technology worked out in terms of the vision and the reality that’s been realized?
Jim Zboril: I think it’s worked out great. I think there’s always more that we wish to do with it, but I think we took a position early on that technology infrastructure was a fundamental infrastructure that needed to be installed. Again, developers would talk about, “Well, of course you need water and of course you need sewer, of course,” but that we need those pipes in the ground, so we made a big commitment to put conduits in the ground everywhere so that we could scale fiber deployment.
Jim Zboril: Then again, this idea about starting with the trajectory of focusing on jobs and education and all that, we didn’t exactly know where that was going to go, right, but we knew that if we did that, those would be some fundamental ingredients that build a good community, right?
Senator Bill Fr…: Yeah.
Jim Zboril: Well, sort of that’s the same with the technology piece. We knew that if we put in this infrastructure, if we committed to laying the conduits that could hold one fiber or millions of fibers, that that would be a key to the future and people would come and think of things that we don’t know right now, but they’ll have the ability to do and this in this project, because you already have that fundamental ingredient.
Jim Zboril: I think we started with something simple, which is we wanted to offer one gigabyte of bandwidth to residential customers and we wanted to do that in a package with digital TV and we wanted to do that cheaper than anyone else. Offer a great service at a great price and something good will happen, right?
Senator Bill Fr…: Yeah, yeah.
Jim Zboril: We did that. We’ve done all sorts of deployments. Because of that backbone, something that we didn’t even know at the time, 5G, that it was going to happen or whatever, now can come here and deploy in an environment because the barriers to entry are low.
Senator Bill Fr…: So low, so low.
Jim Zboril: I think that’s one of the things that we think about, too, as you’re feeling this place is how do we reduce friction? I mentioned what can we do as a developer, right? Well, we can hopefully commit to great infrastructure, we can do things purposeful, but hopefully, we can remove friction.
Jim Zboril: At the end of the day, it was early on when we went and then recruited that first scientist, we all got together and we said, “Okay, where is this scientist’s children going to go to school and what is the spouse going to do and why did …?” We try to remove friction for that scientist to come here, right? Well, this is the idea of that technology, too, we have that here. You can come and you can hopefully get up to speed easier because we’re here to try to enable you doing whatever it is that you do, trying to remove that friction of your coming here and being prosperous.
Senator Bill Fr…: Do you feel that the people who you interact with and the programs that are made available move people in a direction of more centeredness and in a spiritual or emotional way?
Natalia Foote: I think so. I think that they offer programs. We have free yoga. We have free meditation.
Senator Bill Fr…: You say that so easily because very few communities have, yeah, yeah.
Natalia Foote: Right, offer free, exactly. We have free spinning. This coming week, we’re going to have a free dance class. I think that another aspect is fun and joy, so we have a free dance class that’s coming to the community that gives us a chance to just play.
Senator Bill Fr…: Is this open to anybody who lives here or moves to the Lake Nona region?
Natalia Foote: I believe so, yes. It’s open to Lake Nona residents, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Senator Bill Fr…: The more I learn, the more I see that the barriers to access to physical activity, we haven’t talked about nutrition yet, which we’ll go to, but centeredness, that at least in the planning and in the reality, these barriers seem to be fairly low so that people can access them in a much easier way.
Natalia Foote: Yes, exactly. It’s accessible. Correct. It’s giving the tools and providing the residents the tools with which they can choose to go towards.
Senator Bill Fr…: Yeah. Tell me about your yoga. Just give me your history real quick with yoga and what you’re doing.
Natalia Foote: Okay. Yoga studio opened up about four years ago. We had moved in the community five years ago. That yoga studio, prior to having the homestead location, was already teaching yoga here, so I was coming to the free yoga classes on Saturdays. I found out that they were going to open a studio, so I went to the studio, continued to come to the free classes on Saturdays.
Natalia Foote: In one of the classes, the instructor said, “You have pretty good form. Have you ever considered getting teacher-certified?” I thought, “Well, I don’t know.” At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom. I was scrambling and just thinking, “What am I going to do next?” I still want to be able to take care of the kids, be home, help with homework, volunteer, but I also want to do something that’s just for me.
Natalia Foote: Had never given yoga a thought as far as teacher training and when she mentioned this, it just piqued my interest. I thought, “I think I want to do this.” It was a 13-month training. I did that. That was was my first training. I just got recertified.
Senator Bill Fr…: Good. Congratulations.
Natalia Foote: Yeah, thank you.
Senator Bill Fr…: Yes.
Natalia Foote: Because it’s once you open that door, it’s exciting to learn more and you want more.
Senator Bill Fr…: Yeah, yeah. How have you grown, just in being first yoga and entering for yourself and then in the instruction part of it, how do you think it hasn’t really affected your life? People say all sorts of things, make up things about it, but how has yoga affected your life?
Natalia Foote: It allowed me to see the space, the space within myself, the space within others. It gave me a compassion towards myself and towards others. It gave me the ability to be able to sit and be and be okay with being who I am.
Senator Bill Fr…: Yeah. Just look at us right now. I’m hunched over. I’m leaning and you are open. You’re a hug to the world, you’re taking it in. You’re fresh, you’re energetic.
Natalia Foote: Thank you.
Senator Bill Fr…: I need to do more yoga. I need to get in.
Natalia Foote: Starting to come into, come into…
Senator Bill Fr…: I need to get in and be more like you. I’m going to be coming and coming.
Natalia Foote: All right.
Senator Bill Fr…: I don’t think I want to sit that open.
Natalia Foote: Yeah, you just…
Senator Bill Fr…: Where are you in that trajectory in terms of having places for people to meet and community and socialize?
Jim Zboril: Let me answer that question in a big thing, but then let me go back to the story in a minute.
Senator Bill Fr…: Yep.
Jim Zboril: I would say that is the next big thing, that we have this town center that’s under construction across the street here, that area for commerce, for that connection, for that, that commercial enterprise of coffee shops and restaurants and retail stores and those things, they’ve been a little bit lacking. That’s the next thing that we are working on right now and that’s the cranes over there. That’s really what’s happening.
Jim Zboril: I mean, the evolution of this place has been slightly different. Usually, in an evolution of a masterplan community, it usually starts with housing and then it’s retail and then its jobs. This was sort of the opposite. It was just a very little bit of housing. It was a bunch of jobs, then more housing, and then like I mentioned, we hit this great recession and the retail industry is what it is right now, in a little bit of turmoil, so that has lagged a little bit. That’s what we’re really focused on right now is delivering that. I mean, we have some great restaurants here, we have some great coffee shops, we have some things, but we need more of that. I think that will help propel us to the next level.
Senator Bill Fr…: What do you think is going to be different in five years from now versus today, just as you see the trajectory of the last few months or year? Anything stand out?
Natalia Foote: Well, obviously, the population is going to be bigger. I think it’ll feel a little bit more like a city where there’s going to be a little more places to go, people to run into, but I don’t know how it will grow. I don’t know how it will evolve. I haven’t actually projected and thought that, but I am excited about certain aspects, like the linear park, for example, to see how that plays out with the neighbors.
Senator Bill Fr…: What is that?
Natalia Foote: The linear park is a park that they’re going to build. I think it’s a creative way to deal with the water flow, so I think instead of creating another pond, they’re creating this water flow, but it’s a linear park where they’re going to have, I think, one lane for bikes only, maybe the Beep, walking, and some green space. Additional green space, which is exciting. I look forward to seeing how that one, that particular project turns out.
Senator Bill Fr…: Do people have confidence in the planning? The planning here, it’s interesting because I was here eight years ago and it’s the same people who are planning, so they must be doing a good job or they would get their job. Do people have confidence in the planning? Or the equivalent would be, where I lived, to have confidence in the government because they’re determining the framework itself.
Natalia Foote: I think people question because I don’t know if people see the longterm. I think people are questioning, “Oh, why is this being implemented? Why is that?” But I think change is difficult. When we had the Beep, there was two sides. There was the side that was like, “Whoa, we’ve got this electric vehicle in our neighborhood,” and then there was the other side that was like, “This is really slow. I want to get to work on time.” “It’s only going down the street. What’s the purpose?”
Natalia Foote: I’m from the side that thinks, “Well, we have to walk before we can run before we can fly.” The other side doesn’t really want to change. I think that there’s a mix. I think some people are trusting and then some people are questioning.
Senator Bill Fr…: Tell me about the Beep. What is it? We just pulled up and this little white thing went by us and I looked up and there was one person in there, but he was just looking around. Tell me about it. How did it get started? What is it?
Natalia Foote: The Beep is our autonomous shuttle. I don’t know if I’m pronouncing that, autonomous shuttle?
Senator Bill Fr…: Yeah.
Natalia Foote: There’s a person inside of it right now, from what they’ve told me.
Senator Bill Fr…: Yeah, I saw one person looking around, but he wasn’t driving.
Natalia Foote: Right. Well, yeah, there’s no steering wheel.
Senator Bill Fr…: Then how does it drive?
Natalia Foote: It’s electric and it’s all mapped out with code and computers and there’s a system that takes it. Right now, we do have a human in there that has an Xbox controller and they can still tell it when to stop and go and they can manually drive it with the Xbox controller, but it doesn’t have to do that, it can go on its own. The Beep, it takes you from Canvas to Boxi Park. That’s about a mile.
Senator Bill Fr…: Right. Has it ever bumped into anybody?
Natalia Foote: Not that I know of. I think that would be big news if it did. I don’t think it has.
Senator Bill Fr…: Yeah, that sort of risk-taking is there when you’re on the cutting edge. I got out of the way just because I didn’t see anybody in it, I didn’t see a steering wheel, so I got out of the way.
Natalia Foote: Exactly, yeah.
Senator Bill Fr…: In the history of the autonomous operated vehicle and bus that’s running up and down, who is behind that? Is that the community? Was it a collaborative or a company?
Jim Zboril: It’s a collaborative. I think so many things here are. I mean, it wouldn’t be successful if the community wasn’t behind it in terms of ridership and support and all that. Even I was talking to someone not that long ago and they were saying, “Well, the speeds should be greater,” and I’m like, “Well, you would say that about the Internet, too. When we started the Internet, it was a little slower than it is today, right? You got to start somewhere, right?” The community has to be supportive of that and they are.
Jim Zboril: It really started with this partnership with us, with this company, Beep, and then coming in and us working with them to try to say, “Well, again, how do you start something?” How do you get a single one on a single round to start? We don’t really have to think about how do we create a whole system and go everywhere that we have. We want to get there, of course, because its success is going to be again, part of a system, right?
Senator Bill Fr…: Yeah.
Jim Zboril: It’s just one route, that’s not the destination, that’s the first step, right? We’re adding routes, we’re adding cars. There’s a lot of regulatory constraints, right, an area that you know something or two about, right?
Senator Bill Fr…: Yeah.
Jim Zboril: There’s regulatory constraints in the deployment of that, so we are constantly pushing for greater routes and more autonomy and more buses and higher speeds and all those things, so Beep is our partner. They’re the group that’s running that every day. They’re the ones that are powering through these constraints to offer it, but it’s part of the whole ecosystem.
Senator Bill Fr…: Yeah, yeah. Well, when you’re coming here and you see it, it does start asking questions. It does show a receptivity to knowledge, to creativity, to being current, to figuring things out as you go. It does send, I think, very, very positive signals.
Senator Bill Fr…: This whole concept of maximizing human performance or an individual’s performance or becoming the best that they could possibly be, however that’s defined is a theme that winds its way through every meeting, every discussion, every interaction that I’ve had and that we’ve had over the last several days and it’s fun to see it come alive. I look forward to coming back on a regular basis.
Senator Bill Fr…: In this podcast, we are exploring what innovative ideas are improving health and healthcare. Lake Nona looks at the whole person and thinks creatively about how to further their health with design, with human interaction and connectedness, and with science. This will be a city to watch as we increasingly realize it’s not access to pills and hospitals that lead to a healthy population, but rather the environment and people we surround ourselves with.
Senator Bill Fr…: This episode of A Second Opinion was produced by Todd Schlosser, The Motor’s Creative Group, and Snapshot Interactive. You can subscribe to A Second Opinion on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you are listening right now. You can also watch our interviews on YouTube and on our website. Be sure to rate and review a second opinion so we can continue to bring you great content. You can get more information about the show, its guests, and sponsors at asecondopinionpodcast.com, that’s a secondopinionpodcast.com. A Second Opinion, broadcast from Nashville, Tennessee, the nation’s Silicon Valley of health services where we engage at the intersection of policy, medicine, and innovation.