November 8, 2021
Reprinted with permission from U.S.DOT’s ITS and You Blog.
Our Continuous Commitment to Equity and Inclusion
Hello, everyone! As our country confronts converging health, economic, climate, and social challenges, I want to shine a light on how the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office (JPO) is tackling the ramifications of some of these challenges. The past couple of years have borne a marked urgency to examine the true state of equity in our society, in our government, and across industries. Toward this end, our federal government has adopted a widespread agenda to advance equity in its policies, programs, and activities. The ITS JPO—and the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) as a whole—has already begun taking the necessary actions to address inequities in transportation. The ITS JPO has spent years researching transportation services that are safe and accessible for all users; funding research and development efforts to further increase safety, accessibility, and usability; and maintaining principles that uphold diversity, equity, and inclusion. For example, the ITS JPO program has invested in advanced communications technologies that have the potential to help reduce transportation inequities, such as lack of access to medical facilities, transportation, and parking. Unfortunately, these challenges tend to be more prevalent common trends in underserved communities. To combat these challenges, the ITS JPO has pursued research such as vehicle-to-pedestrian communications to help prevent pedestrian accidents and developed signal priority-focused technologies to help emergency vehicles safely navigate through traffic—which will ultimately increase access to hospitals and other medical facilities. Applications are also being developed to make it safer and easier for individuals with disabilities to navigate through their neighborhoods.
In addition, one of the ITS JPO’s more recent efforts—the ITS4US Deployment Program—specifically focuses on advancing transportation equity. The program aims to solve mobility challenges particularly for underserved communities, including individuals with disabilities, older adults, low-income individuals, rural residents, veterans, and travelers with limited English proficiency. Earlier this year, the U.S. DOT awarded over $38 million to five projects in support of the ITS4US Deployment Program. The program is expected to run for nearly 5 years, and the selected projects are currently in the concept and development phase. By the final phase, the projects will deploy innovative technologies that address various challenges around planning and executing complete trips for all travelers. The ITS JPO’s efforts around equity directly align with the U.S. DOT and the administration’s commitments to providing full and equitable access to programs, activities, and services for everyone. Equity and inclusion will continue to be an ongoing effort for the ITS JPO and U.S. DOT as we work to create a more accessible transportation system for all travelers using advanced ITS technologies and applications. To learn more about the Department’s commitment to overall equity, read the Equity and Access Policy Statement.
To learn about the ITS JPO’s research, please visit www.its.dot.gov.
Ken Leonard is the Director of the ITS Joint Program Office, U.S. Department of Transportation.