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Written by Regina Hopper, SVP Global Public Policy, GRIDSMART

In early December, GRIDSMART joined with the Virginia Department of Transportation, ATI21 and Amazon Web Services to continue the discussions from INTERSECT17.  As transportation departments across the country, both local and state, are grappling with the intersection of traditional and new technologies to move people further faster, it was a perfect opportunity to end 2017 focusing on the important issues for 2018.

Governor Terry McAuliffe and Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne both addressed how the state of Virginia is working to lead the nation in both rural and urban communities to advance next generation transportation technologies. The nearly 100 attendees came away with a look at both the day-to-day technical issues and the public policy landscape that both inhibit and advance next generation transportation technologies and initiatives.

Substantive aspects of the event focused on where things stand today, the transition period we are now in and how to position for the future.

One issue was at forefront.  Data is King. How to get it, what to do with it, how to keep it private, how to analyze it, how to keep it safe.

Other questions – What are the technologies around cloud security? How do those who work in intelligent and next generation transportation interface with those in IT? What does this mean for cities and states as there is more connectivity? And how does connectivity further autonomy? What are the new business models around data, the cloud, connectivity, and autonomy and how do those new business models interface with the business model currently in place?

Finally, what needs to be done with the current and next generation workforce to make everyone ready for what needs to be done now and for the future?

What became clear is both private industry and public agencies are in agreement these issues are meant to lift us out of the day-to-day questions of operations and policy to drive to the real issue behind these next generation technologies … saving lives.

On the public policy front, the discussions held at both the VA event and at INTERSECT17 foreshadowed the legislative and regulatory agendas that will be important in 2018 on both the state and federal levels. 5G? DSRC? New technologies?  What should be the appropriate rules around the preemption for autonomous vehicles? Where should safety information from connected and autonomous vehicles be stored… with the federal government, with states and cities, some combination of both, or in a third-party organization? What is the status of vehicle to infrastructure technology and how can both regulators and legislators help advance those important aspects of conductivity?

As we move into 2018, policy and lawmakers as well as private industry and research institutions at every level will continue to debate these issues.  Test facilities and pilot programs will help advance the real-world application to public roads.  Many businesses and governments will be taking up the challenge to balance spending needed for traditional infrastructure versus spending on new intelligent infrastructure. Initiatives will get underway, some of which are already in nascent stages of development, to advance public acceptance of these technologies. Communities and cities will begin looking at how to align transportation initiatives into the larger ‘smart cities’ concepts to advance health care, education, and environmental priorities.

There are many voices in these discussions and GRIDSMART is proud to be a part of this discourse!

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