In my decade of being a senior leader in transportation in the United States, serving in three states and in the federal government, we have seen a significant change in how Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are defined. In the beginning, it meant signals coordinating and providing "real time" information to travelers. It then progressed to Traffic Management Centers that could manage the flow of our systems.
The vehicles themselves have changed dramatically. In 2010, I experienced an ITS demonstration of a "connected vehicle" that would shake the driver’s seat if I tried to merge with a car in my blind spot. In 2014, at the ITS World Congress in Detroit, I was with another DOT director in the back seat of a car as a driver took us on I-75. The driver merged into traffic and took his hands off the steering wheel - the future had arrived. Four years have passed since that demonstration, which feels like an eternity in this brave new world of transportation technology.
We’re coming back to Detroit in 2018 for another ITS America meeting, this time for our annual conference. What will we see there in June, and what do we mean by the theme “Transportation 2.0.”? Where the 2014 World Congress was all about demonstrations of what could be, this year you'll be able to see actual deployments of technology at work - public and private sector innovation working to achieve our collective goals of saving lives and making people's lives better.
In addition to the deployments and demonstrations (yes, we've got those too - the future continues to beckon), you'll hear from executives in the public, private and research sectors explain how they see the ongoing transformation of transportation. On our first day, we’re really looking forward to hearing from Heidi King, Deputy Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Beyond that, Governor Snyder of Michigan and Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado will host a bipartisan roundtable to look at what the future may hold for "Smart States" around the country. Why have they been champions of innovation and how can Transportation 2.0 help them solve big challenges?
Solving challenges in the 21st century requires partnerships, which is why we’re bringing together leaders from the private and public sectors to give a multi-disciplinary perspective on Mobility 2.0. We'll host an OEM roundtable with senior executives from Ford, General Motors, MOIA and the city of Detroit, who will give us a sense of how technology innovations are changing the transportation landscape.
We also know that Transportation 2.0 must include a robust and relentless focus on cyber security to ensure systems are safely connected. No one person or entity owns the entire system, so we must take a multi-disciplinary approach to mitigate risk. We will hear from officials heading up efforts in Michigan and New York City, among others.
The pace of change will always accelerate. We must continue the dialogue if we expect to solve today’s problems and avoid creating new issues for the future. I hope you will join hundreds of leaders from the private, public and research sectors as we seek to safely deploy technology to save lives and make people's lives better. Together, we can realize our vision of a better future transformed by intelligent mobility.
Shailen Bhatt is President and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.