Sec. Chao opens Detroit Auto Show with talk of connected and autonomous transportation

Written By:
Zack Huhn
CEO, Venture Smarter
Chair, IEEE Smart Cities Standards Committee (P2784)

It's no surprise that the North American International Auto Show is buzzing with talk of smart, connected, and autonomous transportation. CES, the Smart Regions Conference, and events around the world have been doing just that. It is especially timely though, as the federal government is on a mission to ensure the United States becomes a leader in smart transportation planning. Secretary Elaine Chao drove home that sentiment in her opening remarks at NAIAS in Detroit this weekend. 

[It is] exciting to hear Secretary Elaine Chao open the Detroit Auto Show by discussing how America can lead in technology and innovation by safely deploying Connected and Autonomous vehicles...
— Shailen Bhatt, CEO at Intelligent Transportation Society of America

Secretary Chao has been moving quickly with USDOT leadership to move forward the conversations and action around Connected and Autonomous Transportation. While regulatory and infrastructure barriers are not without merit, the federal government has paved the way for local and state governments to test, innovate, and deploy smarter, safer transportation technologies and strategies on the path to automating transportation.

In Ohio, one of the many states taking seriously smart and connected infrastructure planning, a new initiative called 'Drive Ohio' is focusing on creating better places to live, work, and visit by focusing on smart mobility projects that put people first. In doing so, Ohio will optimize or altogether replace outdated transportation systems and infrastructure. New jobs will be created, quality of life will be improved, the environmental impact will be mitigated, and equitable access to opportunities will be catalyzed for residents and visitors regardless of socioeconomic or geographical barriers. 

Colorado, Missouri, Florida, Virginia, Michigan, California, Georgia, Illinois... The list of states thinking smarter about transportation is growing. The conversations bring to light the fact that smart solutions can alleviate otherwise strained municipal budgets by cutting costs, generating new revenue, or creating enhanced value for people and agencies. 

At the federal level, legislators are considering policies to enable:

  • Connected Vehicle Infrastructure
  • Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and Transit
  • Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
  • Connected and Autonomous Trucks and Buses
  • Hyperloop and Tube Transportation
  • Drones and UAVs 
  • Railway optimization
  • And more
This paradigm shift in transportation won’t only serve the CEO in his or her Tesla, but also elderly residents, transit riders, and public servants. In the smart city context, technology is always used as a tool to improve outcomes for people.
— Rhonda Binda, Executive Director of Venture Smarter's Regional Smart Cities Initiatives

Interdisciplinary technology, policy, and community engagements at the local, county, state, and federal level will ultimately push toward interoperable, secure, and resilient solutions as you go city to city, state to state, and region to region. Agile policy frameworks will allow for new solutions to be deployed so innovation won't continue to outpace implementation. Technology and policy will move hand in hand as our transportation and infrastructure landscape changes. Disruptions will be realized across sectors as the workforce realigns and the economy grows, but the paradigm shift will lead to new businesses and investments, new and higher paying jobs, and it will lessen the burden of infrastructure costs and failures on municipal budgets. 

We launched Regional Smart Cities Initiatives to bring together these disparate stakeholder groups around technology and process planning standards to give even small and medium sized communities the opportunity to realize smart city success stories. The focus of our upcoming 'Smart Regions Congress' event in Washington DC will focus on just that, looking through the lens of regional transportation planning. Guests from USDOT, top Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Councils of Government, leading research institutions, and top industry enterprises will convene on February 15th to explore opportunities, challenges, and the policies related to building smart cities and regions. 

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Save the Date!
February, 15th in Washington DC (4-630pm)
'Smart Regions Congress'

What are the technologies and applications in a smart region? What is the cost? Who is going to pay for this? Who owns the data? How do we track and measure outcomes? These questions and more will be explored on February 15th on Capitol Hill in Washington DC following the annual conference hosted by the National Association of Regional Councils.  

Thoughts? Questions? Want to get involved? Let's chat!