August 1, 2023
From Evolution to Revolution: Transforming Transportation by Harnessing Our People Power A farewell but not a goodbye to our industry
By Kristin White (Kristin recently departed as ITSA’s COO to become FHWA’s Chief Counsel)
Recently an industry colleague asked, “Do you believe we’re experiencing an evolution or a revolution in transportation technology?” He was asking whether he felt that we were simply progressing in small steps, or whether we have the ability to harness this once-in-a-generation opportunity to radically disrupt a system to revolutionize the way we move and how we live our lives.
I’m often asked, ‘what does the future of mobility look like?’ or ‘what inspired you to start a career in transportation?’ For many of us our transportation story begins with how we move. Maybe we grew up in a part of the world where driving was the only way to get to school. For some, the fear of missing the morning bus could cost us our job. For others, we rely on public transportation services because conventional vehicles can’t accommodate our wheelchairs.
Whatever our story is, we all know that technology plays a pivotal role in helping us build a future that is safer, more sustainable, and more accessible for all communities. We know the time is now to harness this opportunity to transform transportation and revolutionize this system. We must not and we cannot waste this extraordinary opportunity to affect change in radical ways.
That is why, with heavy heart I shared the bittersweet news with our team this month that I am leaving ITS America to take on a whole new challenge that I believe will help us all advance future mobility while continuing to champion and scale technology and innovation across our great nation. When I started at ITS America in October 2021, we had a new CEO with a fresh vision to connect ITS technologies with the people we serve. To ensure that technologies are not just safe, but that they have meaningful outcomes to reduce climate impacts, increase access, and ensure all communities have affordable, equitable, opportunity. We believe that the public and private sectors must come together to support communities. Part of this work focuses on specific technologies, but mostly our vocation is about changing systems, building partnerships, and connecting people – the heart of who we serve. This work is about building bridges across organizational silos to deeply collaborate to meaningfully advance community improvements.
I have often said to our staff, we have the best team, with the best people, with the best organization in the best industry. Founded 33 years ago by Congress to help America deploy transportation technology, ITS America continues to champion its vision of a safer, greener, smarter future for all through transportation technology and innovation.
In the past nearly two years, we’ve transformed the organization – and evolved with the industry writ large. We published a new 3-year strategic plan. We refreshed our vision and mission. We expanded our membership, integrated our work with other modes and federal agencies, saw our most attended conferences and events, and proudly championed women and diversity in an industry which rarely listens to the female voice, let alone promotes it. ITS America will continue to build on these advancements.
Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun.” Each of us in ITS America has so much heart and soul; we are passionately dedicated to this work and constantly look to the stars to see ourselves in them. We are all leaders, inspiring others to dream more, learn more and become our whole selves. We inspire each other to tell our transportation story to transform our system through human connection.
As I leave some of my best friends in this industry for a new adventure in transportation innovation, ITS America is poised to lead in new and exciting ways. ITS America is exploring new ways to grow the industry, to create new markets and train the future workforce. We are publishing strategies on digital infrastructure, artificial intelligence, and other technologies. We continue to champion connectivity and demand a national plan. We will be sharing technology use cases later this year. And we continue to cement ourselves as leaders by serving as the leading voice as the nation’s champion for digital infrastructure.
Transformation is defined as “a thorough or dramatic change in form, appearance, or character.” The ITS industry is dramatically transforming to evolve with the needs of a changing sector and community. ITS America and its members are the heart of a nation of innovators, a globe of thought leaders, a network of connectors. As the industry continues to evolve, ITS America will remain the leading industry voice in digital transformation, meeting the needs of an industry that is saving lives with connected vehicle technology, addressing the alarming climate impacts by reducing greenhouse gases with electric vehicles, is making purpose-built autonomous shuttles with barrier free design, and is even delivering meals and prescriptions through drones and emerging technologies.
As I leave this incredible team in even better hands, I am eager to join the ranks of you all to continue to champion a safer, greener, smarter future for all.
Onwards and upwards together we grow.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.