Momentum: Issue #60

December 7, 2020

2020: The Year in Review

By almost any measure, 2020 has been a year like no other. As COVID-19 emerged, ITS America – along with entities across the United States and around the world – adapted to new ways of working. Despite the underlying turmoil, the association made major advances in structure, membership, events, and policy and advocacy and continues to be a major voice and force in the transportation industry to create a safer, greener and smarter future.

A New Partnership

In early 2020, the ITS America board approved a historic partnership with Reed Exhibitions to sell the rights to operate the ITS America Annual Meeting and North American ITS World Congress. The consummation of this transaction significantly minimized financial and operational risk tied to meetings and events and secured ITS America’s ability to invest in a new sustainable business model for the future.  

A More Equitable Future

The board voted at its fall meeting to move forward with a multi-year plan to realign our priorities and operations with our vision, following a strategic planning process that began last year by talking to our members. 

Much of what we heard was their desire for more opportunities for all members to engage in our work, and from that, developed a more equitable model – one that harnesses our members’ passion and expertise.

The new model will resolve current membership inequities and ensure that all members have full access to ITS America offerings – something we know has been a concern for many of our members. With this comes new offerings, which we will roll out beginning next year – standing committees, which will be forums for members to come together to advance comprehensive programs and services on that topic from research to education to policy and a quarterly analysis of industry trends in 2021, with more to come in subsequent years.

Growing our Membership

ITS America continues to lead the way on issues impacting the future of mobility. This year, we specifically focused on our virtual offerings, to providing members more opportunities to participate in topical discussions and industry thought leadership in a variety of topics.  Some membership highlights include:

  • Completed full audit and review of membership benefits and dues structure to implement in 2021
    • Added more than 35 new members – private-sector companies invested in the future of advanced technology, smart mobility and infrastructure, and leading public agencies and transit organizations, including Alstom Group, City of Columbus, FirstTransit, Metropia, Los Angeles DOT, Mineta Transportation Institute, Velodyne Lidar, Waycare, and many others, including consultants and sole proprietors. 
    • Greatly expanded our member webinar series – 10 presentations on such topics as data reciprocity and performance management, electric vehicles, fiberoptic and broadband technologies, lidar pedestrian detection, V2X, cybersecurity, and mobility energy metrics.

Strengthening our Policy & Advocacy Influence

Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) Communications

ITS America and the V2X Task Force have spent much of 2020 focused on stopping the FCC’s proposal to reallocate the lower 45 MHz of the 5.9 GHz band for unlicensed use. Throughout the year, we developed a broad stakeholder coalition of more than 50 groups opposed to the FCC’s plans, and during the summer, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation joined our effort. The coalition includes transportation-related organizations, bicycle and pedestrian organizations, trucking organizations, school safety groups, first responders, law enforcement, and healthcare-related organizations. In January, we hosted a standing-room-only event for the coalition at the TRB annual meeting where attendees heard from top officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).

In subsequent months, the coalition sent letters (drafted by ITS America) to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee asking them to use their legislative and oversight authority to prevent the FCC from reallocating 45 MHz of spectrum for unlicensed devices. We also prepared sample comments for stakeholders and members to use when formulating their own filings during the 5.9 GHz comment period and reviewed and edited many of these organizations’ filings prior to submission.

In addition, we created a series of public materials, including a comment synopsis, reply comment synopsis, a V2X myth vs. fact sheet, a factsheet on the benefits of V2X for cyclists, multiple iterations of talking points for statements by coalition members, and a summary of the FCC’s First Report and Order, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Order of Proposed Modification.

Other key components include: 

  • comment and reply comment in the 5.9 GHz proceeding, outlining the case for preservation of the full 75 MHz in the 5.9 GHz band for transportation safety. These arguments included analysis pertaining to the threat of interference from unlicensed devices in the 5.9 GHz band, a discussion of the economic tradeoffs of spectrum reallocation away from safety, questions about the legal authority of the FCC to reallocate spectrum in this manner, and numerous other arguments in opposition to the FCC’s reallocation proposal.
  • asking for and receiving a 21-day extension of the reply comment period.
  • August 14 and October 8 to request that the entire 75 MHz be reserved for transportation safety and to brief them on the scope and progress of V2X deployments already using the 5.9 GHz band for transportation safety. We noted the need for adequate spectrum to ensure the provision of basic safety messaging, Collective Perception Messages (“CPM”), and Maneuver Coordination Messages, and discussed interference protections that would be required to ensure that V2X can function reliably in the proposed 30 MHz band.
  • ex parte that discussed the timeline of V2X development, USDOT’s opposition to the FCC’s proposal, and the reasons the FCC should defer to USDOT’s transportation safety expertise on this issue.
  • letter to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to express concern about 5.9 GHz spectrum reallocation. On September 23, principals from ITS America, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the American Trucking Associations, the National Sheriffs’ Association, Consumer Reports, and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance held an off-the-record meeting with White House NEC staff to discuss the issue. On October 22, the same group (except the American Trucking Associations, due to a scheduling conflict) held a virtual public discussion to share their perspectives on this issue. This diverse cross-section of the transportation safety community was unanimous about the importance of preserving the entire 5.9 GHz spectrum band for transportation safety.
  • Less Spectrum Means Less Safety, in which Shailen Bhatt challenged the FCC’s V2X development timeline and economic analysis and spoke to the importance of V2X technologies for automated vehicle safety.
  • conversation with former transportation secretaries Anthony Foxx and Ray LaHood to discuss USDOT’s view, under their tenures, of V2X as an important tool to help reduce traffic fatalities nationwide.

FAST Act Reauthorization/Smart Infrastructure

ITS America’s education and advocacy of Congress, with a particular focus on House Democrats and Republicans that won seats in the 2018 midterm elections, yielded strong results in 2020 in the House-passed INVEST in America Act FAST Act reauthorization. Our advocacy strategy focused on the early education of the freshman class of the 116th Congress on the safer and greener benefits of intelligent transportation technologies.

The net result of this advocacy and education campaign resulted in a significant expansion of intelligent transportation technology research and deployment funding opportunities in the House-passed nearly $500 billion over five years for surface and rail transportation. The INVEST in America Act, which was the centerpiece of the Moving Forward $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that passed the House in July and will be the starting point for the reauthorization of the FAST Act in the new Congress, made intelligent transportation technologies central to the legislation’s goal of climate mitigation, congestion relief, electrification of the transportation system, equity, and safety.

The bill includes numerous priorities from the ITS America FAST Act reauthorization platform. ITS America sought new opportunities to grow research and deployment of intelligent transportation technologies, including:


ITS America has provided timely updates to our members since March on Washington’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. We worked with the Washington transportation community to ensure emergency assistance was available for the transportation sectors we represent.

The Smart Infrastructure Task Force, led by John Barton, HNTB Corporation DOT Market Sector Leader and Senior Vice President, and Tilly Chang, Executive Director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, completed three conference calls in April focused on the concerns and emergency needs of ITS America’s members. The task force listened to the concerns and agreed on the key themes that framed the association’s COVID-19 legislative priorities.

ITS America President & CEO Shailen Bhatt sent a letter on May 11 to House and Senate leaders included the key themes identified by the Smart Infrastructure Task Force, including the following:

ITS America also led virtual briefings to showcase how transportation technologies were being deployed to slow the spread of COVID-19, reinforce logistics and supply chains, and improve system performance. The briefings were held for the House Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure and Science, Space, and Technology staff and the Senate Committees on Environment and Public Work and Commerce, Science, and Transportation staff. The following member examples were highlighted in the briefings: 

  • Safety Technologies
  • Congestion Mitigation Technologies
  • Touchless Technologies

Mobility on Demand

Following the launch of the Mobility on Demand Alliance in 2019, the MOD Alliance worked to bring MOD to the forefront of the transportation technology and infrastructure landscape. 2020 highlights include:

  • MOD Policy
  • Plenary Events and Partnerships
  • MOD Research


ITS America’s position as a convener of a diverse group of members and cybersecurity stakeholders positioned the association to help clarify the cybersecurity framework currently operating in the transportation field. In conjunction with the Cybersecurity Task Force co-chairs, we planned an event to identify gaps that ITS America could help fill in the transportation cybersecurity space. The co-chairs identified three groups to present on this during the “State of Play of Transportation Network Cybersecurity” webinar, which featured experts from IBTTA, OmniAir Consortium, and SAE International.

The outcome of the forum provides a basis for a framework to help guide the cybersecurity components of the various standing committees which are being formalized in 2021, particularly in terms of securing connected and automated vehicles.

Strengthening our Media Profile

We have invested time in the past few years cultivating relationships with influential media and have seen that work continue to pay off. 

On V2X and preserving the safety spectrum, ITS America cemented itself as a go-to source – in July, Politico named Shailen Bhatt as one of five 5.9GHz band ‘power players’ (alongside Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai). Bhatt has been quoted in numerous articles this year, including The Washington Post, Politico, Reutersand Automotive News and spoke to more reporters on this issue than any other this year. Throughout the year, we capitalized on existing news hooks (FCC filings; relevant hearings; public meetings; etc.) and created our own (V2X social media day) to focus media attention on this issue through interviews, statements, videos, and virtual discussions.   

We have received multiple requests to do interviews, podcasts, and guest columns, including a request from Roads & Bridges for four columns in 2021; this podcast will be available starting December 8.  

Social Media

On the social media front, we continued to expand our digital footprint this year. Updates from our multiple platforms:

  • Facebook: 4,287 followers
  • ITS America Twitter: 9,509
  • LinkedIn Corporate Page: 8,065 followers (up from 6,728 last year)
  • LinkedIn Group Page: 6,741 members
  • MOD Alliance Twitter: 416 followers
  • YouTube: ITSA has greatly increased our use of video in 2020, thanks to our pivot to primarily virtual events. Viewership increased by 282%; with 1,587 views and 127 “watch hours” for the 18+ videos uploaded.  

New Website

One large project launched from the ITSA Comms and Marketing teams was a completely revamped corporate website. The new transformed our brand and ability to offer both members and industry stakeholders additional information on our Advocacy and Policy work, updated and enhanced searching and categorization, streamlined our back-end hosting platform, and provided additional bandwidth for virtual/video events. Additional small changes will be made to the site to optimize in the coming year.

Reimagining our Events

Once the pandemic hit in March, ITS America adapted very quickly and pivoted from in-person events to virtual events. We created virtual opportunities to connect with our members and industry stakeholders, including topic-specific webinars (many of which are noted in the policy sections) in addition to continuing our member-hosted webinars.

ITS World Congress and ALL-ACCESS

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and our prioritization of the health and safety of our global community of ITS professionals, the ITS World Congress scheduled for October 4-8, 2020 in Los Angeles was cancelled. While this was a disappointment, we were thrilled to announce that the 28th ITS World Congress will be held in Los Angeles September 18-22, 2022.

ITS America developed and delivered ITS World Congress ALL-ACCESS, a virtual event this fall bringing together more than 2,600 ITS community professionals from a diverse audience profile including public sector (DOTs), private sector, academia, engineers, architects, MPOs and more. Over the course of four weeks, the event paved the way for innovation, thought-leadership and valuable insights by providing 47 networking and educational opportunities hosted on the ITS World Congress ALL-ACCESS Knowledge Center in the form of keynotes, interactive sessions, discussion groups, live Q+A’s and more. Educational themes included Seamless Mobility and Changing Behavior, Disruption on the Digital Highway: Data, Intelligent, Connected and Automated Vehicles, Sustainable Transportation, Planning for the Future Transportation Ecosystem.

The online Knowledge Center will continue to house on-demand sessions including the keynotes, concurrent session blocks, state DOT roundtables on safety and equity, MOD/MaaS workshops, a fireside chat on sustainability, sponsored Info sessions, and more.

Between Two Futures Series

We launched “Between Two Futures – How We Map Toward Safer, Greener, Smarter Transportation,” a series of online conversations with industry thought leaders to look at the impact of COVID-19 on transportation – freight movement, equity and accessibility, sustainability, mobility technology and open streets. These included one-on-one video chats with Shailen Bhatt and: Seleta Reynolds of Los Angeles DOT; Chris Spear of the America Trucking Associations; Phil Washington of LA Metro; and Janette Sadik-Khan with Bloomberg Associates and former NYCDOT commissioner. Shailen also hosted webinars with leading researchers from MCity, UC Berkeley, TTI and CMU to discuss transportation’s post COVID-19 roadmap; transit investment as a tool for equity with RTCSNV, COTA, SEPTA, and Delaware Transit Corporation; and a discussion with state DOT heads from California, Delaware and Utah.


ITS America quickly transformed in-person events into virtual gatherings, allowing us and our members opportunities to be in front of key industry stakeholders throughout the year. In addition to expanding our member webinar series, we also developed and hosted other webinars throughout the year, tapping into our members’ expertise on a variety of topics – some of those are noted in earlier sections, and others include: Automation in the Time of Coronavirus; and part 1 of our Moving Towards Greener Mobility: Sustainability and Transportation Series. For links to any of the webinars or video chats, visit the website.

CEO Speeches and Presentations

Like ITS America, other organizations turned in-person events into online events that featured keynote speakers and panel discussions. In those capacities, Shailen Bhatt presented to seven ITS America state chapter annual meetings and four international conferences, in addition to FT’s Future of Mobility summit, the New Democrat Caucus policy conference, and several other events.  

Engaging through our Technical Programs

Continuing to engage and educate the ITS community

In partnership with USDOT, ITS America’s technical staff continued to engage with ITS stakeholders through a variety of webinars, virtual events, and technical trainings. This included a seven-part webinar series on the Complete-Trip ITS4US Program, a virtual event on Increasing Worker and Driver Safety through Access to Work Zone Data, and a panel discussion on the Future of Mobility with Open Source Software, amongst others. Education and outreach were once again a key focus in 2020, with the goal of enabling state and local, public and private sector professionals the opportunity to receive free training and information about USDOT’s latest activities as well as critical issues in the ITS industry today. This year, we developed a new training course on Applying the NIST Framework for Cybersecurity to Transportation Systems. Highlights of these efforts include:

  • Organized, hosted, and facilitated 12 virtual events which reached more than 3,000 ITS stakeholders; and
  • Planned, facilitated, and delivered technical trainings on in a virtual format to ITS America State Chapters across the country.

Focusing research efforts on emerging mobility trends

ITS America’s technical staff developed a range of technical publications, presentations, and technical insights to inform staff, members, and others in the industry about emerging topics in mobility and associated lessons-learned and future-facing considerations. Topics of interest included automated vehicles (AVs), accessibility, and the role of emerging technology on mobility, among others. Highlights of these efforts include the following:

  • Produced a literature review regarding Accessible, Barrier-Free Mobility, covering topics such as the potential impact that Mobility on Demand (MOD), vehicle automation, road design, and evolving assistive technology can play in reducing hurdles to mobility for all;
  • Produced and published the first three issues of ITS Insider. This year’s issues respectively focused on the following topics: 
    • MOD in the Time of COVID-19
    • Accessible Paths
    • Moving Towards Greener Mobility: Sustainability and Transportation; and
  • Presented technical knowledge and research findings as speakers at industry events:
  • National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)’s commemoration of 30 years since the signing of the ADA, presenting on the topic of AVs and accessibility
  • Led a discussion on the topic of MOD and COVID at the invitation of the Center for Connected and Automated Transportation (CCAT).

Forming new partnerships that enable continued knowledge transfer

ITS America’s technical staff led and facilitated the creation of the Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Deployer Task Force, with the mission of providing a setting for CAV deployers to meet to openly discuss deployment challenges, successes, lessons learned, and other findings that potential future deployments can benefit from. In partnership with FHWA, ITE, and AASHTO, ITS America also convened leaders and members from more than a dozen national organizations representing transportation agencies to discuss next steps in advancing roadway automation readiness through executive roundtables. The goal of these roundtables is to build relationships and share information about current efforts, critical issues, and opportunities for collaboration. Discussions focused on exploring the current state of roadway automation readiness and identifying future needs for the deployment of automated vehicles.

As we approach 2021, we are optimistic about a better future transformed by intelligent mobility – one that is safer, greener, and smarter. We hope you are, too!