Momentum: Issue #11

January 22, 2019


Last week, both snow and 10,000 transportation professionals converged on Washington, D.C. for the 2019 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting. As usual, the conference featured more sessions than anyone could count!

The biggest news came from Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who announced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would publish a long-awaited proposed drone regulation, which would more easily allow drones to be flown commercially over people and at night.

While she was making that announcement, ITS America President & CEO Shailen Bhatt was talking about the evolution of mobility – to include the use of drones – in the “State of the ITS Industry” session across the hall. He spoke about the association’s Mobility on Demand (MOD) Alliance and the idea of seamless mobility. “Our next evolution will be to move people, data and freight. People use their cars because it’s easy. The MOD Alliance’s goal is to make it just as easy to use other forms of transportation, whether it’s transit, micromobility options like bikes and scooters, ride-sharing, or delivery of passenger freight by drones.”

Bhatt also covered ITS America’s continued focus on preserving the 5.9 GHz spectrum and implored the standing-room only crowd to join the fight.

Also on the panel: ITS America members (and board member) Roger Millar (Washington DOT) and Michelle Maggiore (Cisco), as well as Ken Leonard, with the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Earlier that day, Shailen and Roger participated in the Federal Highway Administration’s National Dialogue on Highway Automation panel.

Another highlight included the gathering of ITS America board and advocacy members to hear from USDOT’s Jim Ray, who talked about 5.9, infrastructure and mobility, and ERTICO CEO Jacob Bangsgaard. Jacob, also president of the MaaS Alliance, talked about best practices and lessons learned that could help guide the MOD Alliance as well as plans for this year and beyond.

ITS America members participated throughout the week, including Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn and Idaho’s Transportation Department director Brian Ness talking about FAST Act reauthorization; WSP hosting a session on transportation companies increasing or decreasing congestion; and DDOT presenting on system performance to name just a few.  And of course, the ITS America member reception – we always enjoy hosting this event, and judging from the size of the crowd, it’s become an occasion not to be missed!  Check out photos from the event online.  

TRB wasn’t the only big event this month – the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), as usual, dominated technology news with its 2019 show in Las Vegas. Here are four key takeaways from ITS America staff who joined the 150,000+ attendees:

·    CES 2019 was a Mobility Show. From Monday’s packed Connect2Car conference programming to the entirety of the North Hall (and some of the Central Hall, and some of the South Hall…) the most intriguing booths and sessions focused on moving people, goods, and data. ITS America members were out in force in the automotive-focused North Hall and as conference speakers, but they also had strong presence in areas like the Smart Cities Pavilion in the Westgate hotel and outdoor demo areas. Personal mobility and first-mile/last-mile solutions were sprinkled elsewhere throughout the conference, including on-the-road demos and even in the mix of commercial drones and robotics exhibits.  While virtual assistants, infotainment and smart home products were still major attention grabbers, this year… transportation was the name of the game.

·   Public/Private Partnerships are Crucial for Advancing Transportation Technologies. Echoed in several sessions was the need for public companies and private organizations to work together. During the ITS America member-heavy “Government vs OEM” session, panelists commented on the misnomer of their own panel. “I really think this panel is better named ‘Government *AND* OEMs,’” stated Andrew Heath of Georgia DOT.   The panel was moderated by AECOM’s Suzanne Murtha and other speakers included Kirk Steudle of Econolite, Tina Quigley of Southern Nevada RTC, John Bozzella of Global Automakers, and Jessica Uguccioni of the Law Commission of England.

During a “Taking the Lead on Innovation in Cities” panel with Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Los Angeles City Council member Joe Buscaino (15th District), participants reinforced the notion of partnerships to accelerate transportation technologies. Buscaino referenced the Port of Los Angeles: “We want to be zero emissions by 2035. How do we prep for the electrification of all this equipment? Policymakers, environmental scientists, public safety officials, and municipal leaders need to partner with the private sector to make these important decisions and move forward.”  Bowser talked extensively about new mobility in D.C., including bikeshare, scooters, and rideshare.  Cities “have to take a longer view of technologies and create structures that are equitable. Mobility companies came in with products our community could actually use.”  

·   Electrification and Autonomy. Safer, greener, smarter: CES offered an equal balance of electric and autonomous solutions, providing insights into the future of trip planning and energy efficiency.Toyota, Audi, and Ford showcased self-driving vehicles, and EasyMile and Local Motors featured shuttles in their exhibit booths. Qualcomm, whose chipset gives automakers the power to add C-V2X to their cars, partnered with two ITS Americas members: Derq, with its AI software, and Kapsch, to show its first configurable roadside ITS station platform. Ford and Audi also teamed up to demonstrate their C-V2X technologies, with Ford pledging to offer it in new models by 2022.

·   Data, Data, Data.  Data collection can transform safety, sustainability, and user experience.“The open data portal in Los Angeles is allowing us to share information, especially on dockless vehicles, and allows us to make wiser decisions,”said Seleta Reynolds, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, referring  to its Mobility Data Specification (MDS), a standardized data format and interface that helps track and manage providers like bikeshare and scooter companies.  


Name: Jean Pilon-Bignell
Title: AVP, Government & Smart City
Company: Geotab

Short Job description/Role Responsibility: Responsible for developing and executing sales and business development strategies for all government fleet and smart city product/service offerings. 

What’s the future of #ITS look like to you? A connected world where vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, and infrastructure seamlessly and autonomously coordinate activities in the safest and most efficient and environmentally sustainable manner possible. 

Hobbies: Hockey, Golf

Favorite place to travel: Mountains, beach, or both

Most Unusual Job you have ever had before current position: at my previous job I worked at a major aerospace defense contractor developing missile detection and designation systems… most military aircrafts are already connected so I moved on to vehicles. 

If you could Switch jobs in your company, who would you switch with and why? I have the best job in the company.