Momentum: Issue #6

November 13, 2018


ITS America held its Data and the Digital Highway executive forum in San Francisco on November 5.  With our world becoming more connected, this timely forum highlighted how data collected from vehicles and infrastructure technologies can provide important insights on how best to improve safety, reduce congestion, and enhance transportation options for those traveling on our nation’s roads. Approximately 70 key stakeholders participated in a robust discussion on the opportunities and challenges associated with the collection and use of data by those developing, operating, and managing intelligent mobility technologies.  ITS America especially would like to thank the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) for hosting and Iteris for sponsoring the event.

In his welcoming remarks, ITS America President and CEO Shailen Bhatt framed the discussion as one focused on the fundamental question of how to aggregate data from numerous users, ensure that it can be accessed and turned into actionable information permitting real-time decisions.

Steve Heminger, Executive Director of MTC, spoke about the daunting expectations faced by AV manufacturers and provided an historical overview of how long various automotive technologies took to become widely adopted.  He spoke on the distinction between product cycles for information, motor vehicle, and roadway infrastructure technologies.  He argued that similar to the Federal government taking the lead on the interstate highway system, it should demonstrate leadership on creating a modernized transportation system built around technology.   

The “Innovation Driven by Intelligent Mobility” panel was moderated by Ramin Massoumi, Iteris and ITS America Board member. Panelists included:  Andy Fremier, MTC; Evangelos Simoudis, Synapse Partners; Nikola Ivanov, Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory; and Rob Bauer, AIG.

Panelists discussed that despite having a significant amount of data from customer interactions, partnerships, transit, and infrastructure, agencies are hardly scratching surface of what they should be doing with data and how it can be used to incentivize mode shifts.  Data generated from smart transportation technologies has persuaded some investors to switch their focus from enabling autonomy to monetizing mobility.  

Tom Lee with Mapbox, moderated the “Data Sharing: Building Communities of Knowledge” panel, which featured:  David Knight, Terbine; Michelle Maggiore, Cisco; Randy Cole, Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission; and Tilly Chang, San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

During the panel discussion, an argument was made that agencies do not need to hold the data and that the insights from the data, not the data itself, is the key.  The Weather Channel is an example of how an agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, provides the underlying data to a provider, which then distributes it in a usable, consumer-friendly manner. An investment can be evaluated for risk or considered foundational, where components can be swapped out and demonstrate a return in the short term and be scalable in the long term.  Additionally, the ability of Blockchain to enable smart contracts to extract or add value in microtransactions at the appropriate level make it perfectly suited for Mobility on Demand. 

The “Partnerships and Overcoming Obstacles” panel provided examples of current data exchange partnerships and discussed shared intelligent mobility data and the additional data that will be available in the future. Census data on how people commute to work, for example, is woefully outdated. Applications today provide this type of information in real time to policymakers so they can make actionable decisions. The situation of being data rich but information poor is often a problem that needs to be addressed.  

Jeff Davis, ITS America served as the panel moderator. Panelists included:  Gary Carlin, INRIX; Wes Maurer, Colorado Department of Transportation; Tiffany Barkley, Iteris; and Sean Co, Strava Metro.

The “Navigating the Maze of Data, Privacy & Security” panel discussed the challenges collecting and using data, such as the protection of proprietary data, liability concerns, cybersecurity risk and compliance with cybersecurity best practices, and the implementation of privacy protections.  Jason Goldman, ITS America, served as the moderator.  Panelists included:  Robert B. Kelly, Squire Patton Boggs; Jeffrey Benowitz, Caltrans; and Chris Murphy, General Motors.

When looking at privacy and cybersecurity, flexible architecture is key from a design point.  For example, a vehicle can take five years from concept to production due to testing and certification required to ensure safe operation – but the lifespan of a vehicle is approximately 10 years.  Given this cycle, designing flexible systems is paramount. Because a cybersecurity threat against one organization affects all within the sector, information about cybersecurity threats is being shared with a variety of private-sector, state, and federal stakeholders.  Given these potential threats, there is an increasing appetite among federal and state policymakers to pass new cybersecurity and privacy laws and regulations.

The “How Data Changes the World” panel provided a wrap-up of the day views regarding the transformative nature of intelligent mobility data.  Shailen Bhatt, ITS America President and CEO, moderated.  Panelists included:  Roger Millar, Secretary, Washington State DOT; Ben Levy, Bootstraplabs; Gordon Feller, Meeting of the Minds; and Belle Walker with HERE.

Who owns what data?  While regions make sense, the United States isn’t organized that way – instead, there are cities, counties, and states.  Though billions of dollars have been spent over the last 10 years on highways – for example, in one state only about 1% of additional lane miles have been added – technology and applying that technology are key to managing the transportation system.   Given its unique ability to collect and house the data for the benefit of all including private-sector partners, government must have a robust role in the data business.  Policymakers must communicate the data, not just collect it.   


Name: Cem Saraydar
Director, Electrical & Controls Systems Research Lab
Company: General Motors

Short Job description/Role Responsibility: I am fortunate enough to lead a group of researchers working on technologies that will help achieve GM’s vision of Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions and Zero Congestion. The work in my team covers a wide range of topics, including connected vehicles, active safety and autonomous driving. I take immense pleasure from seeing our team deliver results that will make a positive impact on our customers and on society as a whole, and from seeing our team members succeed and grow in their careers.

Current or previous  #ITS Project: Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology developments

Accomplishments: I am proud of all the diverse learning experiences I have been through during my education and my professional career. Surviving my PhD was definitely one of the highlights!

What’s the future of #ITS look like to you? I genuinely believe a future with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion is possible. However, it will take a whole ecosystem of players to get there.

Favorite place to travel: New York City is definitely one of my favorite places to visit. I lived close to Columbia University during my wife’s PhD. I love the positive energy and the diversity of the city.

Any other fun fact you would like to share? All throughout middle school and high school, I participated in my school’s Drama Club. I acted in several stage productions such as Harvey and Heaven Can Wait.