Momentum Issue #136: Guest Column

By Brian Cronin, Director, ITS Joint Program Office, U.S. DOT

What a great time to take the lead of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO). With unprecedented resources available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, now is the time that ITS solutions are being deployed at scale. My goals for the program are to (1) Foster innovation through collaboration, (2) deliver equitable deployment, and (3) engage externally and internally. From my 25 years at the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) leading ITS research, I can honestly say that I am a champion for collaborative innovation. In my career I have been fortunate to work across modal administrations to shape and guide innovations that enabled safer, more effective mobility across modes, including working with the Federal Transit Administration on next train and bus arrivals information, working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on advanced driver assistance systems, and Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on advanced integrated corridor management systems. I worked across all modes to implement transformational challenge programs like the Smart City Challenge and the Intersection Safety Challenge. I also strived to create innovative ways to share research results, such as the work by the CARMA team at FHWA to enable innovative, open source – based research in cooperative driving automation.

Of course, throughout this time of innovation, nothing has been more important to me than the groundbreaking opportunity to dramatically improve safety presented by the implementation of Vehicle to Everything (V2X) technology. I am honored to be at the helm of the ITS JPO while the Department creates the Saving Lives with Connectivity: Accelerating Vehicle to Everything Plan. The investments we are making to equitably implement this technology are important. Through the recent Advanced Transportation Technologies and Innovative Mobility Deployment (ATTAIN) and Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program grants, V2X implementations in State, rural and tribal America are happening now. The ITS Joint Program Office is making available technical assistance resources through the Smart Community Resource Center; and working with the ITS America’s V2X and Connected Transportation Committee to understand technical assistance resource needs and create the necessary resources.

Innovative mobility solutions are transforming the urban landscape in terms of travel options, as well as business delivery mechanisms. Automated vehicles are entering the transportation ecosystem delivering people and freight. Now is the time to understand the dynamics of the evolving data landscape enabled through these innovations; and required for these innovations to succeed. Digital Infrastructure is a critical ITS enabler that is evolving rapidly and the community is trying to better plan a path forward.

We couldn’t innovate or deploy, without our modal and industry partners. I am thrilled to say that we will be updating our ITS Strategic Plan in 2024. The ITS Program Advisory Committee, a formal Federal Advisory Committee, is also relaunching. I expect to gather ideas domestically and globally as we look to the future. Lastly, as we create this new ITS Strategic Plan, we are partnering with ITS America to gather stakeholder input on what does Transportation look like in 10 years, based on the ITS solutions that we are expecting the industry to deploy. We will be holding a virtual listening session during one of the February ITSA Friday Member calls. Stay tuned, and thank you ITS America, for your years of industry advocacy.