Axios What's Next

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Today we welcome Alex Fitzpatrick to Axios (yesterday was his first day!) and the What's Next team. He'll be the new editor of this newsletter, working with Jennifer and Joann.

  • Today's reader photo comes from Sabrina Sullivan, who had to make a run for it to capture the image — that's dedication!
  • Please send us your hard-won shots of What's Next: [email protected].

Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,092 words ... 4 minutes.

1 big thing: Mayors seek a bigger voice in immigration debate

Illustration of a microphone wearing a mayoral sash.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Mayors from around the world have converged on the United Nations this week to propose ways to make cities more hospitable to immigrants and refugees — and to seek more money for their efforts, Jennifer A. Kingson writes.

Why it matters: Cities are on the front lines of immigration, but mayors feel they've been crowded out of discussions. A new group called the Mayors Migration Council hopes to make their voices heard in national and international circles — and highlight the actions that cities are taking to welcome and assimilate newcomers.

Driving the news: The United Nations meets this week to review progress on a set of guidelines for immigration that were established in 2018 — which mayors weren't involved in crafting. Members of the Mayors Migration Council are on hand to deliver a new report that highlights 70 city-based initiatives for immigrants and refugees. Examples include:

  • Barcelona, Zurich and Braga (in Portugal) have set up formal welcome programs for Ukrainians.
  • Milan has a green jobs program for migrants.
  • Bogotá has opened nutrition centers for immigrant children from Venezuela.
  • Kampala, Uganda offers cash aid to migrants affected by COVID-19.
  • The mayor of Boston, Michelle Wu, has set up five initiatives, including a "Dreamers' Fellowship," which prepares undocumented immigrants for jobs, and a health care fellowship, which places African and Caribbean professionals in local hospitals.

The big picture: The founders of the Mayors Migration Council — who include Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — are trying "to change business-as-usual in how the international system operates, so that cities are more included in the conversation," Vittoria Zanuso, executive director of the council, tells Axios.

  • 70% of displaced people seek refuge in urban areas, and 20% of international migrants go to just 20 cities, the group says.
  • Ignoring the arrival of newcomers or trying to push them back won't change the reality on the ground.

Keep reading.

2. Uber adds electric cars and stadium food to its menu

Illustration of a burger, drink, and fries, sitting on a cell phone as if it were a tray
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Uber is adding "comfort electric" vehicles to the ride-hailing options on its app in some California cities, part of an ongoing effort to get drivers and customers to go electric, Joann Muller writes.

  • Plus: At many stadiums, you can now order food from the concession stands using Uber Eats so you don't have to miss any of the game standing in line.

Details: Uber Comfort Electric is available in San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles with more cities to come.

  • Riders tap a button to request a ride in a premium EV like a Tesla, Polestar or Ford Mustang Mach-E.
  • The Comfort Electric option is offered alongside Uber Green, where riders can already request hybrid and EV rides, as well as car-free options like bikes and scooters.
  • Hailing a premium EV is more expensive, though.

Uber Eats at Stadiums is currently available in LA at Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium; in New York at Yankee Stadium; in Washington, D.C., at Capital One Arena; in Houston at Minute Maid Park; and in San Jose at PayPal Park.

How it works: Inside the venue, customers can open the Uber Eats app and click on their general seat location (Main level, section 215 or gate 21B, for example) to be shown nearby ordering options.

  • When the order is ready, they’ll be notified and can head to the pickup location, skipping the line.
  • Uber plans to offer the service at concerts, festivals and theaters too.

Also announced Monday by Uber:

  • Uber Travel: Reserve rides for each leg of your itinerary in advance.
  • Uber Charter: Book a party bus, passenger van or coach bus.
  • Vouchers for Events: Cover the cost of rides for your wedding guests or employees.
  • Autonomous Delivery: Two pilot programs in Los Angeles, using self-driving cars from Motional and sidewalk robots from Serve Robotics.

Read the rest.

3. Employers are allowing more remote work days

Data: Barrero, et al., 2021, “Why working from home will stick”; Note: Each wave surveyed between 2,500 and 5,000 U.S. adults; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Barrero, et al., 2021, “Why working from home will stick”; Note: Each wave surveyed between 2,500 and 5,000 U.S. adults; Chart: Axios Visuals

Bosses are coming around to the idea of remote work, at least for part of the week, writes Emily Peck of Axios Markets.

Driving the news: U.S. employers are easing up on the return-to-office plan. They're now saying they'll allow an average of 2.3 days per week at home, up from about 1.5 days in the summer of 2020, according to a new survey.

The big picture: At a basic level, people have gotten better at working remotely, and the tech has improved as well. (Remember Zoom bombing?)

  • More unexpected, however, some employers got a lot of "pushback from disgruntled employees," says Steven Davis, professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Davis and economists Nicholas Bloom and Jose Maria Barrero have been running a monthly remote work survey since the pandemic began.
  • And, in a tight labor market, there was extra pressure to cave.

Who caved? Some big guns: JPMorgan Chase, Apple and Airbnb all changed their expectations for employees this year, as Bloomberg recently reported. Even some major law firms.

Emily's thought bubble: WFH is beyond a trend now. This is a real change.

Share this story.

4. Just another (robotic) parking garage

A parking lot under construction in China
An aerial view of the "Hangzhou Future Parking Building Dragonfly Park" in Hangzhou, China. Photo: CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

When this parking lot structure in Hangzhou, China, is complete, you'll be able to drop off your car for an automated robotic system to park, Jennifer writes.

  • The facility — which architect Daniel Statham Studio calls "car parking for the future" — will accommodate 500 cars on six levels, four of them underground.
  • You'll be able to choose between manual parking (so old-fashioned!) and automated parking technology, which uses lifts and robotic devices to stow your unoccupied car.
  • You'll collect your car the same way — with no human valet in sight.
  • Here's a video of one such system in action, and here's an article Joann wrote about automated parking in the U.S. from a company called U-tron.

What they're saying: "The design for this project aims to step towards the future and create a harmony between the 'automobile and the city,'" says Daniel Statham Studio, which was founded in London and has offices in Shanghai.

  • "It aims to invent the way we commute to urban hubs and how our personal automobile is stored while we work and play."
  • The project was commissioned by the government of Hangzhou.

5. Just another (robot) pedestrian

A delivery robot crosses the street
A delivery robot crosses the street in Santa Monica, Calif. Photo courtesty of Sabrina Sullivan

What's Next reader Sabrina Sullivan sent us this photo of a delivery robot crossing the street in Santa Monica, Calif. Her observations:

  • "I was astounded to see it. We were vacationing there and saw several of them."
  • "They dodged pedestrians and stopped at stop lights."
  • "My impression was laughter, interest, and curiosity. Who packed it? What was inside that could be delivered robotically? Who was on the receiving end?"
  • "I'm from NY so seeing this in CA was a novelty. I snapped this photo by chasing this one. They can move pretty fast."

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