Momentum: Issue #3

October 1, 2018


Farvel, Copenhagen! As many of you are aware, the 25th ITS World Congress wrapped up a little more than a week ago. It was a terrific week, full of interesting sessions, demonstrations, and activities.  

Copenhagen gave us a vision of what a 21st century city could look like. Using the word vision doesn’t even seem accurate, though. What we saw isn’t decades or even years away, because we experienced it during our stay.

I walked out of the conference venue – the Bella Centre, which is on the outskirts of the city, and got onto an autonomous shuttle for a five-minute ride to the nearest metro stop. On that ride, I used an app to pull up multiple ways to get to my next destination via transit.  And – I could find out the cost of each trip and purchase a ticket, all through the app.

This is a model of success for cities as they work through how technology can save lives and make people’s lives better.  It is one of the reasons we are so excited about building a Mobility on Demand Alliance in the United States and our partnership with the MaaS Alliance.  What I experienced in Copenhagen was part of the seamlessness of mobility which transportation consumers will demand going forward.

The invention of the car solved a lot of problems, but it also created new ones we never contemplated. Autonomous vehicles will also solve problems – they will allow people with disabilities to experience the freedom of mobility; they will turn wasted time sitting in traffic into productive time.  We must ensure that challenges that come with new forms of transportation, such as the impacts of automation, are being addressed now.  The conversations we have now will shape the future. We need to game it out before we are five to 10 years down the road, saying ‘I wish we’d thought about X.’

Copenhagen gave us a lot to think about, and the programming really supported its ‘Quality of Life’ theme. From talking about what’s next for automated mobility, with Qualcomm on the plenary stage discussing why connectivity is key to intelligent mobility, to Panasonic’s announcement of its new traffic management solution using V2X standards, and ITS America Chair Carlos Braceras discussing how states can create livable and safe environments for its citizens – and so much more.

I always get energized during these meetings and come back more committed than ever to our vision of a better future transformed by intelligent mobility – one that is safer, greener and smarter.  Copenhagen is now in our rearview mirror, and while we can’t wait to see what Singapore has in store, our eyes and efforts are focused on Los Angeles in 2020. Take a look at what’s in store (see the multimedia section) – and mark your calendars now!


Name:  Wendy Tao
Title:  Head of Smart Cities
Company:  Siemens Intelligent Traffic Systems at Siemens Mobility

Short Job description/Role Responsibility: Iwork with city and regional agencies on Siemens Smart City solutions, connected vehicle applications, active and adaptive traffic management and the emerging field of mobility as a service

Current or previous #ITS Project: I spent the last 15 years working on transportation, energy and climate change issues in California, nationally and internationally as a transportation consultant – with several years spent in transportation planning, and as a transportation analyst.

Favorite place to travel: This might be cliché for a transportation nerd, but my favorite travel destinations are dense urban areas with multi-modal travel options – New York, Munich, Taipei, Paris.  The first stop is to go to the visitor’s center and get a paper map – always a paper map.  Part of the journey is reviewing the transit network, figuring out the fare system and downloading the local bikeshare app.  In my last trip to Istanbul I was able to walk to a streetcar to a ferry to a bus to get to the airport.  It added a little extra time to the trip, but a whole lot of economic utility to the experience.

Most unusual job you have ever had before current position: Aside from working the drive-through at McDonald’s, one of my most interesting jobs was on a World Bank project in Fushun, China where I documented locations and frequencies where pedestrians would jaywalk.

If you could switch jobs in your company, who would you switch with and why?:  I would switch with the entry-level software development intern.  Coming from the transportation engineering/planning side, I have never learned the mechanics of developing code for the products we provide and configure with our agency customers.  To me there has always been a mystique around software development and learning this “language” would be a benefit to understanding fundamentals of our products – it’s often hard to become an intern again after moving along in your career – so if I had a chance to intern as a software developer (if anyone would ever even hire me for that) it would be a great experience.

Fun fact: I’m an avid hiker,