At DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), dedicated professionals are working hard to make sure our transportation systems get smarter and smarter.
Why do we want to improve the intelligence of American transportation? To help you travel safely. To help you avoid congestion in your daily travels, saving time and fuel. To help move raw materials to factories and finished goods to market as efficiently as possible.
As our Undersecretary for Policy, Polly Trottenberg, said this week, "Even as we work to bring American transportation into the 21st century, we have to coax better performance out of our 20th century infrastructure."
A smart road will safely alert drivers in advance of changing pavement conditions. A smart transit network will let you know how long you'll wait for the next bus. A smart highway will alert commercial drivers to delays ahead and redirect them to alternative routes, saving time and fuel.
Intelligent transportation systems read and interpret data and communicate useful information--information that you can act upon-- to vehicles, traffic signals, message signs, drivers, and passengers. It might seem obvious, but when drivers and transit riders have more transportation information, we can make more informed transportation decisions. The same holds true for traffic signals and other devices that keep vehicles moving smoothly and safely.
This week, the intelligent transportation community--the thousands of leading transportation officials, technology providers, policymakers and researchers who are doing this important work--holds its annual ITS America meeting in Nashville. There is a lot of brain power gathered in Music City this week, and there is plenty to talk about.
As more and more data become available, many ITS professionals are also focusing on the back end of intelligent transportation--areas like system architecture, privacy, and cybersecurity.
Others are asking broad questions like, What should we measure? What can we measure? How do we measure it? And, how do we transform what we measure into information Americans can use on the go?
One new tool that transportation fans might find interesting is RITA's ITS Asset Viewer, launched just this week for the ITS America meeting. This online, web-only app shows the wide range of intelligent transportation resources already in use from coast to coast--tens of thousands of highway messaging signs, traffic control devices, and more. And all of these items--overlaid in the app atop a map of the nation--are working to keep Americans and our economy moving as fast and as safely as we can.
It's an impressive collection of items that demonstrates just how thoroughly ITS innovation is embedded into our national transportation system. And this week in Nashville, thousands of creative minds are sharing ideas and putting their heads together to take safety and efficiency to the next level.