Celebrating Richard Arvine Overton, Oldest Living WWII Veteran

Here is the straight up: it is a contentious day here in America three days after the election. It seems like everyone is upset with something and feels like the world is falling apart. GRIDSMART always doubles down when the stakes are high so here goes: “The election does not matter in the big picture because we have the privilege to be feeling contentious thanks to the over one million Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice in war.” It is not Memorial Day, but don’t forget that statistic.

Today out of a nation of 320 million, 1.3 million Americans are on active duty with another 1 million serving as reservists. That means that less than 1% of Americans are willing to make the sacrifice that more than 1 million already have to make sure we can bicker, complain, and raise our children in a safe place where there are no limits to what they can be. Fewer than 1% are willing to be that “statistic in the first paragraph.” Is it harder for many than some to achieve this dream that our military protects? Absolutely and that is wrong, but those less than 1% are giving us the chance to make that right.

That same less than 1% has protected us for a couple of hundred years plus and made sure that we have the chance to “screw things up” any way we like. God bless you, each and every one. God bless those who came before and those who serve us now. God bless those who believe and those we hope will believe in time. On behalf of the entire GRIDSMART family, let me say thank you for being willing to pay a cost that can never be repaid although I pray you never have to pay it.

richard-arvine-overtonA very special thanks to Sergeant Richard Arvine Overton, who is our oldest living WW II Veteran and who bravely volunteered and served in the 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion even though it was disgracefully labeled a “colored” unit. Thank you, Mr. Overton, Sir. I raise my whiskey glass to you and would be honored to share a “whiskey-stiffened” coffee with you.

Bill Malkes Signature

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Post-Holiday Bummer

It is the day after INTERSECT16 and it feels very much like the slight melancholy of December 26th. You feel amazing about the past few days, you feel proud of bringing the family together, you feel thankful for all the great people in your life, you feel concern that they make it home safe. You honestly feel a bit of relief that your labor of love gets to take a break and you feel anticipation for next year. So, why do I feel this way after INTERSECT?

Because with GRIDSMART it is all about family from all over the country and all over the world. It is about me having the privilege to work with employees, business partners and end customers who truly care about doing the right thing, who care about their neighbors. Good and Fair People who want to make a million lives better through technology. That happens to be with GRIDSMART Technology.

It is more than a business for us, it is more than a job for our customers, it is about making the world better for our neighbors. This year we all learned from ITS Super Stars Kirk Steudle, Carlos Braceras, Randy Iwasaki, Regina Hopper and Paul Brubaker.  We shared case studies from around the world, got continuing education credits and we all welcomed Daniel Benhammou and Acyclica to the GRIDSMART family.  Who doesn’t love new arrivals to the family at the holidays?

And, did you see the press love for INTERSECT?

So, what is the call to action for this post? Love and applicate those around you. Join us in serving others to make the world a safer and better place. Always give more than you have too. And get ready for INTERSECT17……It is going to be EPIC….again. Yes, the melancholy is fading; time to get to work!

Let me not forget, congratulations and thanks to Tim Smith for being named the Ultimate GRIDSMART Man of 2016.

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Association Leaders Highlight Federal Technology Initiatives

Regina Hopper, CEO of The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) and Paul Brubaker, CEO of The Alliance for Transportation Innovation (ATI21.org) held a lively discussion today on federal transportation policy and innovation. The discussion, moderated by Bryan Saint focused on this critical moment in the evolution of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and the task of moving exciting innovations out of the labs and onto the roadways.

With more than 30,000 people killed annually on America’s roads (early statistics indicate that number could approach 40,000 in 2016), Hopper and Brubaker agreed these life-saving technologies have never been more critical. But major challenges to deployment remain including transition from the current fleet, cybersecurity and in the case of self-driving, job retraining for those who will be displaced.

Earlier this Fall, the U.S. Department of Transportation released its Federal Automated Vehicles Policy signaling government support for self-driving vehicles, but the road to full autonomy has many challenges. Brubaker, who formerly served as administrator of U.S. DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) stated that his group released a National Strategic Framework to advance self-driving vehicles just last week arguing that bringing these technologies to bear should be a critical goal of the incoming administration. Going one step further, he said only the office of the president has the ability to bring all government and private sector stakeholders together to accomplish this goal.

In spite of the challenges, Hopper and Brubaker remain optimistic about prospects for a connected transportation future and the role private industry and innovators will play in making it happen.

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Leaders Explore Possibility of Knoxville Becoming a Self-Driving and Connected Vehicle Testbed

After delivering remarks to Intersect attendees, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero met with nationally recognized transportation leaders to discuss the viability of Knoxville, TN becoming a testbed for companies conducting research on connected and self-driving vehicles.

Among those in attendance were The Alliance for Transportation Innovation CEO Paul Brubaker, Utah Department of Transportation Director Carlos Braceras, Contra Costa Transportation Authority Executive Director Randy Iwasaki, Intelligent Transportation Society of America CEO Regina Hopper and GRIDSMART CEO Bill Malkes.

Several cities including Ann Arbor, MI, Contra Costa, CA, and Tampa, FL have already established test beds on both public and private roads. Those test beds are creating new economic development in their regions. The discussion in the room noted that few if any can offer researchers all of the assets of Knoxville including a four-season climate, hills/flat land, city/rural environments and a nearby technology hub.

Mayor Rogero said before the meeting, “Connected and self-driving vehicles are on the cutting edge of transportation and with our existing high-tech industry and diverse geography, we may have a unique opportunity to build a new industry right here in Knoxville led by companies like GRIDSMART,” she said. “While this is just a discussion,” she continued that we’ve got “the right people in the room to consider the viability of this opportunity.”

All agreed that while there is great potential for a testbed and that more research is needed to determine what the next steps should be.

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Thailand Develops Web Apps to Reap Rewards of GRIDSMART’s Open API

Traveling half-way around the world to share his insight into GRIDSMART’s Application Program Interface (API), Chalunvuth Nutayakul (JJ), managing director of New Trend Development, discussed his company’s work with the Kingdom of Thailand’s transportation system.

JJ spoke last year about his work with GRIDSMART at INTERSECT15, where he discussed congestion mitigation in Thailand, using the API to create real-time traffic gridlock maps and disseminating that information through local media.

Today, JJ showed attendees how he developed web apps using the GRIDSMART API to highlight major congestion areas while incorporating additional installations and data for a broader transportation snapshot.

“GRIDSMART data is limitless, and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “The use of these systems is only limited by our imagination and I’m so excited to be able to make traffic more efficient in my home country. GRIDSMART technology is truly making a difference.”

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