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CONNECTED VEHICLES Opinion piece


“We can learn from automotive manufacturers who are already in the race. They enable app developers by enticing them with data”


mation delivered by creative apps (consider: Waze). Apps fill consumer needs using location-based data from connected vehicles. So how does a public agency embrace empowered users? First, it means changing an agency’s “do-it-yourself”


mindset to a “help-others-help-us” mentality. We can learn from automotive manufacturers who are already in the race. They enable app developers by enticing them with data. Ford opened their dashboard to app developers and 1000 signed up in the first three days. Developers have an appetite for data. With data they create applications that meet consum- ers’ needs in ways that would be difficult for a public agency. The more open agencies are with their data, the more crea- tivity emerges. Much transit data is openly available resulting in many


apps that provide transit information benefiting both trave- lers and agencies. Similarly, six cities are facilitating V2I applications now. San Jose, Portland and Eugene, Oregon, Garland, Texas and others release traffic signal timing data to app developers. We should soon see this data driving environmental and mobility apps as well as safety warnings. Agencies have other data (work zone, incident, and weather data) that could be valuable in creative hands. Some cities have sponsored competitions for app developers. Of course, it is never as easy as it sounds. For agencies,


does release of the data and future apps support public goals? Does it create goodwill by giving travelers information that makes their life easier? Can data be shared fairly? Is there a cost to the agency in dollars or time? It is unlikely that data will be a revenue stream for an agency; however, it may be a cost-effective way to help citizens.


Position Now is time for agencies to position themselves for the pos- sibly of connected vehicles that use DSRC. Cell-connected vehicles are taking over consumer applications, but DSRC has a safety niche (for now). Even though DSRC is in the research phase, there are


practical actions that public agencies can take today. First, identify potential DSRC locations that 1) are distinctly suited to DSRC safety applications, 2) require unique DSRC data and 2) where benefits are likely to outweigh the costs. Likely locations include: • High-crash, signalized intersections, • High-crash, run-off-road locations,


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• Corridors with intensive data needs (such as evacuation corridors), and


• Locations requiring unique DSRC data elements (such as weather sensitive locations).


Secondly, assess currently programmed projects on the metropolitan Transportation Improvement Plan and the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. Pro- grammed projects, such as traffic signal system upgrades, are candidates for modification to add DSRC equipment at minimal cost. Planning for DSRC is still imprecise as key questions


remain. • What are the costs of installation, operation and mainte- nance for DSRC equipment?


• Will public agencies with roadside equipment be required to participate in the DSRC security network?


• What data elements will be included in the basic safety message? The more data that is included, the more appli- cations (and roadside equipment locations) will be useful for a public agency.


Additionally, agencies should watch for the upcoming AASHTO Infrastructure Footprint Analysis. It includes val- uable information to aid agencies in determining how and when to proceed, particularly with DSRC. Back along the French roadside, we glimpsed the pelo-


ton coming around the bend. “Allez, allez, allez!” yelled the sunbaked, enthusiastic crowd. They’re here! Packed tightly; pedaling furiously. They’re gone. Out of sight in a flash. Nothing left but the heat. The connected vehicle marketplace is on a fast pace. Public


transportation agencies need to engage now or be left behind on a hot roadside. The sooner public agencies start planning, providing, procuring, participating and positioning, the sooner they will be a “player” on behalf of the public good. Allez, allez, allez!


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 Shelley Row is the former director of the US DOT’s ITS JPO and is the founder of Shelley Row Associates, based in Washington, DC


shelley@shelleyrow.comshelleyrow.com


thinkinghighways.com Vol 8 No 3 North America |||||||||||||||||


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