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Opinion piece

“Today, public agencies have a choice. They can sit on the side of the road as the connected vehicle eco-system pedals by or they can participate as part of the entourage. Participating requires rethinking agency roles”

• Procure data for operation and traveler information; • Participate in the connected vehicle eco-system; and • Position the agency for the future.

Plan Planning includes an assessment of data and information needs to meet agency goals for managing and operating a transportation network and for providing traveler informa- tion. Connected vehicles generate, send and receive a lot of data but is that data beneficial to an agency? That’s where a data assessment plays a role in evaluating: • The data the agency currently has on freeways and arte- rials (travel time, speed, volume, incidents, signal timing data and more);

• The accessibility of the data; • The format of the data and standardization across the city, metropolitan area or state;

• Specialized data needs (for example, weather data for win- ter treatment or fog-prone locations, wind data for high bridges, data for evacuation routes); and

• Information and data needed for traveler information (for example, dynamic message signs, 511 and social media).

Planning also includes a study of crash data to identify high- crash signalized intersections, problematic road segments for run-off-road crashes, weather-specific crash locations or other locations where vehicles need to understand roadway conditions.

Provide Historically, public agencies provide their own data through a variety of technologies. Bluetooth readers are the latest option. With the proliferation of smartphones, Bluetooth readers capture data from passing IP-equipped devices (phone, tablet, car). It is a simple form of vehicle-to-infra- structure (V2I) communication, and can be a cost-effective way for agencies to capture data in our smartphone-enabled environment. Like any technology, there are considerations. Bluetooth

Just as peleton spectators wait expectantly for the arrival of the competitors, transportation awaits the approach of the connected vehicle. With the marketplace moving at such a fast pace, you have to be quick not to miss the action as it passes by in a flash

North America Vol 8 No 3

readers provide a specific type of data. Does it supplant other data collection technologies? What’s the cost of installation, maintenance and operation for a Bluetooth reader? If addi- tional data is needed, what is the complete cost to meet all the agency’s needs? And – here’s the harder question – do you need the same data you did in the past? Does new tech- nology offer benefits over other options?

Procure Increasingly, agencies can procure data rather than provide it themselves. Connected vehicles using cellular (embedded or carried-in) are generating new data and new business oppor- tunities. Several companies capture, analyze, store and sell connected vehicle probe data (another version of V2I). This data source will grow as more gadgets and vehicles become transmitters. Some public agencies already purchase this data to satisfy

all or part of their data needs. Probe data from connected vehicles offers breadth of coverage (including rural areas) that may not be economically served through other technol- ogies. Several states also use connected vehicle probe data for travel time on message signs. It’s a powerful data source that warrants agency consideration. Considerations include analysis of the type and quality

of data that can be purchased, the cost of the data, and the coverage provided. Based on the initial planning assessment, agencies can identify which data needs are filled and what other data needs remain. With an understanding of the com- plete data picture, evaluate total costs. How does the cost of procuring data compare to the equivalent cost of installation, backhaul, maintenance, operation, and processing of other data options? What are the implications on staffing?

Participate Today, public agencies have a choice. They can sit on the side of the road as the connected vehicle eco-system pedals by or they can participate as part of the entourage. Participating requires rethinking agency roles. Across industries market power has shifted. Those who

had centralized control are losing power to users (con- sider: taxis and Über or hotels and AirBnB). The power is not coming back. No industry has successfully fought the trend. Embracing it is the only viable option. In transpor- tation, travelers are gaining power through abundant infor- 35

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