Momentum: Issue #22

June 24, 2019


Mobility on Demand (MOD) set the stage for the ITS America Annual meeting in June, highlighting  how today’s rapidly changing and growing transportation landscape, cities, DOTs, transit agencies, mobility and micro-mobility providers, data companies, financial and insurance services and many others are focused on how to deliver customer-focused, seamless mobility. This was followed by a series of sessions threaded through the week that highlighted how MOD not just builds on the backbone of ITS and infrastructure investment but is a larger vision of how an integrated network of safe, carefree and reliable transportation options can be available to all.

Vince Valdes, Associate Administrator for Research and Innovation of the Federal Transit Administration and Phil Washington, CEO of LA Metro, each highlighted that MOD takes purposeful investment and strategy. “By even optimizing a small amount of money as part of the MOD Sandbox,” noted Valdes, “transit agency and private partner pilots have demonstrated how technology and mobility services can deliver better customer service, but also frankly how to avoid future investments in technology that doesn’t work (or how it need to be evolved).”

LA Metro highlighted a cohesive strategic plan that sets a roadmap for the future by expanding the menu of transportation options and shared mobility. “The focus is on managing both demand and supply,” said Washington. “On the supply side we are focused on new microtransit options to improve the customer experience and have partnered with three teams to plan and design on-demand services. On the demand side, we are very serious about how we reduce our carbon footprint and single occupant vehicles. This is why we are launching a feasibility study to look at congestion pricing. But any program must be matched with very viable transit alternatives.”

Phil Silver, Transportation Lead for Amazon Web Services, highlighted that MOD is currently moving from its 1.0 phase to its 2.0 phase. “MOD is still experimenting, but the private and public sectors are moving toward partnering on how to empower citizens and the consumer experience. As we consider the technology that powers this, we need to evolve from what data do we have and how do we get it to what data do I need and where I source it.”

This set the stage for a robust panel and participant discussion on tackling the data sharing problem. Robert Galvin, Chief Technology Officer, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, John Kwant, Global Director, Government Relations, Mobility and Advanced Technologies, Ford Motor Company, Jeff Marootian, Director, District Department of Transportation and Jan Whittington, Director, Urban Infrastructure Lab, University of Washington Transportation Data Collaborative engaged attendees in a dynamic discussion about the challenges of data sharing. Kwant observed that Ford is learning in the early days of this journey. “There will need to be some heavy lifting to move forward with data sharing while still preserving privacy.” Whittington shared that data standards don’t necessarily do anything to protect the privacy and that sanitized “aggregated data” isn’t good enough. Over the last year, UW has been developing a system that creates a new specialized data set that provides trip level information while protecting privacy. Marootian and Galvin also highlighted the challenges the public sector has with data. “In many ways, we have more data that we can use. I like to call this digital waste,” Galvin observed. “Don’t collect if you aren’t going to use it.” Marootian added this requires public agencies to better define the use cases they really need and noted DDOT has partnered with third-party data aggregators to start collected mobility and trip data and how it would be used by the DOT.

Like the Seattle launch event, attendees were engaged in robust roundtable discussions to help the MOD Alliance consider ongoing work approaches and focus areas. They closed the event framing this larger discussion about who should own the data and the solutions that currently are driving a discussion and even conflict between public and private entities.


Welcome to Kailee, Elizabeth, Katharine, and Kayla, spending a warm D.C. summer at the ITS America headquarters!

Kayla Jones
School: University of Redlands
Major: Public Policy and Business Management
Dream Job: RAND Policy Analyst, City Manager, County Supervisor, or CA Legislator

Why did you choose ITS America for your summer internship?: I really enjoy working with a team and helping to create a lasting impact in our evolving society. I also wanted to experience the inner workings of a non-profit advocacy organization and learn more about technology’s growing role in transportation policy as I felt that my knowledge of it beforehand was pretty minimal.

Favorite part (so far) of working at ITSA: I have really enjoyed learning facts about transportation policy, staying updated on news relating to innovative transportation technology, and helping the staff with interesting research projects.

What does the future of ITS look like to you?: I believe that intelligent transportation will eventually, maybe even within the next decade, be at the forefront of many people’s daily commutes and travels. I find it amazing how the implementation of innovative transportation technologies once may have seemed so far-fetched but could very well be what we see in the near future, especially with ITS America’s dedicated continuity to help spark this up-and-coming change. 

What are you looking to gain from this experience?: Over the course of this internship, I hope that I can improve my research skills and become more versed in the projected impacts of intelligent transportation as it has the ability to positively influence the wellbeing and efficiency of people traveling for themselves or with freight.

Hobbies: Cooking, hiking, and roadtripping           
Karaoke Song:
All Star by Smash Mouth
Favorite mode of Transportation:
When I am exploring a big city, I love treating myself to an electric scooter.

Katharine Smyth
School: University of Michigan
Major: Political Science and International Studies
Dream Job: Attorney

Why did you choose ITS America for your summer internship?: As a political science student, I have always been interested in and wished to learn more about the governmental process. I wished to work at ITS America because I believe their unique role as both an advocacy organization and a multi-modal member association for the emerging intelligent transportation industry will allow me to study a range of issues, both in regard to policy as well as technology.

Favorite part (so far) of working at ITSA: Being able to attend #ITSDC2019.  The Annual Meeting took place during my second week with ITSA, and it provided a great opportunity to immerse myself in the organization.

What does the future of ITS look like to you?: Fostering intelligent transportation efforts has become an increasingly important issue in recent years, and I am looking forward to seeing how intelligent transportation will grow to serve our changing communities.

What are you looking to gain from this experience?: ITSA is involved in so many ventures, and there are always emerging developments. I am looking forward to learning as much as a possibly can from the team here at ITS America and taking what I learn and applying it to future endeavors.

First car you drove: Chevrolet Equinox
Karaoke Song:
Toto’s “Africa”
Favorite mode of Transportation:

Elizabeth Johnson
School: University of Redlands
Major: Political Science and Public Policy
Dream Job: Supreme Court Justice

Why ITS America?: I wanted to work at ITS America to learn more about the transportation industry and be a part of an organization that believes in improving the safety and environmental impacts of transportation.

Favorite part (so far) of working at ITSA: Being able to attend the annual meeting!

What does the future of ITS look like to you?: I believe that ITS will continue to change the way we think of and go about daily transportation, I’m very excited to see how it will all emerge! 

What are you looking to gain from this experience?: I hope to have an up-close experience with policy making and learn about how transportation policy and technology has evolved and will continue to develop in the future. 

First car I drove: Volkswagen Jetta
Karaoke song: Bohemian Rhapsody

Kailee Jackson-Russo
School: University of Redlands
Major: Political Science and Public Policy
Dream Job: Chief of Staff

Why did you choose ITS America for your summer internship?: I chose ITS America because I wanted to learn in a field that I had not previously worked in before. 

Favorite part (so far) of working at ITSA: My favorite part of working at ITSA has been learning new things about the industry, like up-and-coming technology and ongoing policy changes.

What does the future of ITS look like to you?: It is hard to say what the future looks like because of how quickly technologies changes in transportation. Whatever it looks like though, I believe that it will work to promote public safety while minimizing emissions.

What are you looking to gain from this experience?: I am hoping to gain exposure to policymaking and see how policies evolve to eventually form law.

Favorite place to travel: Vienna

Favorite mode of Transportation: Electric Scooter