ITS America 2018—Transforming Mobility for the 21st Century
As a diehard Ohio State Buckeyes fan, I have very little stomach for driving into Michigan.
Nonetheless, I muscled through and headed to Detroit for the Intelligent Transportation Society (ITS) of America’s annual meeting. I was very excited to learn more about smart mobility’s impact on the transportation industry, and the “Motor City” host of ITS America did not disappoint.
Throughout the conference, I spent time exploring the exhibit hall to learn how other companies are accelerating their businesses into the world of smart mobility. I was particularly fascinated by some of the new hardware for traffic signal cabinets and the sans-steering wheel autonomous vehicle.
But the technical sessions were the real draw.
This conference focused on how our world is changing, faster every day, due to the near-instant availability of all kinds of data. Automotive companies are leveraging this data to transform everyday vehicles into connected vehicles. Varying levels of connectivity, leading all the way to connected autonomous vehicles, are being tested and evaluated in pilot programs across the country.
I attended a full-day technical session on preparing for connected vehicle deployment. The key takeaway was the importance of stakeholder collaboration. The successful deployment of connected vehicles requires the buy-in and participation of everyone from automotive companies to traffic signal technicians. Pilot programs across the country continue to provide valuable feedback toward making connected, autonomous vehicles a reality.
Mom Motivation—Beyond the Minivan
The ITS America Celebrates Women and Leadership breakfast featured an inspirational, all-female panel discussing the unique challenges that women with leadership positions face as they navigate their careers. Several of these motivational panelists took career breaks to raise children before navigating their way back into the work force.
As a working mother, I was very motivated by these stories. I know how hectic it can be to balance work and family demands. The main message to the room of mostly women (and a few brave men!): believe in your abilities and stand up for what you believe you deserve. With persistence, others will listen and believe in you, too.
Data, Data and More Data
Other interesting technical sessions ranged from improving intersections and signal equipment technology to using the copious amounts of data collected by advancing technology. For example, one presenter discussed how video monitors and sensors can be used to predict pre-crash events and alert drivers of possible incidents.
A particularly interesting session addressed increasing the public’s openness to sharing vehicles. I thought the presenter made an excellent point about how in our society, we share many items—from desks and planes to much more personal items like hotel beds and silverware. Yet when it comes to our vehicles, most of us refuse to share. There might just be an argument here for opening up to change and allowing technology to transform the way we live.
Filled with awesome, in-depth learning experiences, my time at the ITS America annual meeting opened my eyes to new industry trends while encouraging me to persevere in my career no matter the roadblocks. Especially if they happen to be Michigan fans.
Whether wearing her traffic engineering or mom hat—or sometimes both at the same time—Lindsey Kieres is a talented designer with an eye for detail. She leverages traffic site data with a background in traffic signaling, highway lighting, maintenance of traffic, interchange justification and safety studies to recommend safe, feasible and cost-effective traffic solutions.