December 6, 2021
A Look Back: ITS America in 2021
As we get ready to shift our sights to 2022, it’s important to look back at this year’s achievements. While COVID-19 still caused us to operate in a mostly virtual world, the new reality did not slow us down. One of the highlights of 2021 was the passage of an historic infrastructure investment bill, which President Biden signed into law in November. Another milestone, though bittersweet, was the successful transition to new President & CEO Laura Chace following Shailen Bhatt’s departure to AECOM. This was also the first year of executing on ITS America’s new strategic plan, which we created to realign our priorities and operational processes with our vision. Given that backdrop, below are highlights of ITS America’s past 11 months.
Providing More Value, Growing Our Membership
As part of the new strategic plan, ITS America successfully implemented a more equitable dues model for private, public, non-profit, and academic members and provided an opportunity for all members to engage in all aspects of our work. We phased out the Advocacy Trust and created six new committees open to all members – their work is outlined below.
We also added 37 new members – private-sector companies invested in the future of advanced technology, smart mobility and infrastructure, and leading public agencies and transit organizations (new member announcements are here and here). We continued our popular Member Webinar series, hosting seven presentations this year – topics are outlined in the digital education section. In addition, open rates for Momentum, our bi-monthly member newsletter, increased this year and are in the 20-23% range. We also received and published more member-authored feature pieces than in past years.
Expanding our Policy and Advocacy Work
ITS America’s three-year surface transportation reauthorization education and advocacy campaign focused on expanding intelligent transportation technologies in the reauthorization of the FAST Act and yielded strong results in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Build Back Better Act (the reconciliation bill).
IIJA includes many new opportunities to deploy intelligent transportation technologies, for which ITS America has strongly advocated for a long time. Most notably, first-time eligibility for cybersecurity under the National Highway Performance Program and Surface Transportation Block Grant Program in IIJA. Other wins in IIJA include up to 100 percent federal share for vehicle-to-infrastructure technology in work zones, first-time eligibility for vehicle-to-pedestrian technology, Mobility on Demand under highway programs, transportation system electrification, connected and automated vehicle grants and research, increased funding for public transit, vision zero grants under the Safe Streets and Roads for All Grants, and more.
The Build Back Better Act also includes several ITS America policies, for which our members have advocated, including $10 billion of increased investment for public transit under the Affordable Housing Access Program, $4 billion in funding for state and local transportation agencies to reduce on-road greenhouse gas emissions, funding for technology deployment that can decrease surface transportation-related air pollution under the Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant Program, and funding to deploy technology to protect vulnerable road users. The bill expands electric vehicle (EV) tax credits, eliminates the 200,000 per manufacturer EV tax credit cap, and establishes a tax credit for certain new electric bicycles.
ITS America also focused this year on educating Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) on the growing cybersecurity threat to the nation’s transportation assets and infrastructure, including successfully advocating for first-time eligibility for transportation system and infrastructure cybersecurity in IIJA. Shailen Bhatt testified before a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works cybersecurity hearing on July 21 and called on Congress and the Biden Administration to work with USDOT and other stakeholders to adopt a more robust national transportation cybersecurity strategy to make the digital layer of the U.S. transportation system safer. The hearing, titled “Addressing Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities Facing Our Nation’s Physical Infrastructure,” examined cybersecurity threats to the nation’s infrastructure.
ITS America’s testimony called for a more robust national transportation cybersecurity strategy to make the digital layer of our transportation system safer. That strategy includes the following:
- Provide state, local, and other transportation agencies funding at up to 100 percent federal share, technical assistance, and best practices to improve their cyber defenses;
- Establish a USDOT grant program to help rural transportation agencies and areas of persistent poverty or income inequality modernize intelligent transportation systems;
- Reimburse transportation entities that have been proactive and used state, local, or other funding sources to modernize ITS and improve cyber defenses; and
- Allow flexibility in how transportation funds are used to invest in future cybersecurity workforce capacity.
5.9 GHz Legal Challenge
On May 3, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued its 5.9 GHz First Report and Order, which reallocates the lower 45 MHz of the 5.9 GHz band for use by unlicensed devices and leaves only 30 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for V2X operations. On June 2, ITS America and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) filed an appeal of the FCC’s First Report and Order in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to reverse the Commission’s reallocation of the lower 45 MHz and to preserve the full 75 MHz of the 5.9 GHz band for transportation communications.
The key argument in the appeal is that the FCC exceeded the scope of its authority as modified by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century when it reallocated 60 percent of the 5.9 GHz band away from V2X communications. While the FCC generally has broad authority to allocate radio spectrum in the public interest, we argued that Congress has clearly articulated a need for ITS and has placed USDOT in the lead role in achieving this objective, and that, in this context, the FCC is not free to ignore the concerns raised by USDOT and reallocate the majority of the spectrum assigned to ITS services.
Several members of ITS America’s coalition to preserve the spectrum (the American Highway Users Alliance, American Traffic Safety Services Association, Institute of Transportation Engineers, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the National Safety Council) filed a joint amicus brief on August 20 in support of our position that focused on the need for ITS and the myriad safety benefits that this technology can provide. Additionally, Continental filed an intervenor brief in support of our appeal.
ITS America and AASHTO filed our joint petitioner’s brief on August 13 and reply brief on November 10, and the Court has scheduled oral argument in the case for January 25, 2022.
ITS America Committees: 2021 Highlights
The Automated Vehicles Committee focused on developing a set of principles to encourage the federal government, as well as the industry at large, to think about and strategically plan for a future with automated and autonomous mobility. During the summer, the committee created task forces to develop principles around four main policy areas: equity, climate, safety, and infrastructure. That work culminated in the Equity, Climate, Safety, and Infrastructure Principle for Automated and Autonomous Mobility, which the Board of Directors approved at its September meeting.
The Emerging Technologies Committee focused on two primary topics this year: personal delivery devices and urban air mobility. The associated task forces delved into learning about the technologies, bringing in speakers from different parts of the industry to present research, trends, new technology, and others as relevant, and discuss with the members, and identifying ways the public and private sectors could better coordinate and work together to successfully integrate emerging technologies. Both task forces heard from successful city-private partnerships to understand how and why they were effective.
Mobility on Demand
The Mobility on Demand Committee worked on multiple issues this year. The policy working group proposed policy for the House Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s transportation bill (which unfortunately did not advance). On the programs side, we completed two national MOD surveys in collaboration with industry partners: a public survey (produced in collaboration with AAA and Cubic) and a practitioner survey (produced in collaboration with UC Berkeley, PTV, AASHTO, and ITE). These surveys explored trends and perspectives pertaining to MOD deployment and adoption nationwide. Following each survey, we hosted webinars (public is here; practitioner is here) and other knowledge sharing events – including a Global MOD/Maas Forum hosted in collaboration with the MaaS Alliance – to present and discuss survey findings.
Additionally, the UBM/mobility wallet taskforce met regularly throughout the year. The group produced two one-page primers – one on UBM and one on mobility wallets, which was highlighted during the September workshop – detailing the definition of the concept, the goals and core functions, and key considerations. The group also recruited speakers from private and public sector programs implementing UBM and mobility wallets and hosted a virtual workshop with cities deploying mobility wallet technologies. Another sub-committee created and helped launch ITS America’s first “Best of MOD” award, which will debut at the annual meeting in Charlotte.
The Smart Infrastructure Committee’s focus this year was on creating policy recommendations in four specific areas, which the board ultimately passed: the broadband deployment task force developed the Surface Transportation Broadband Policy; the FAST Act reauthorization task force worked on ITS America’s policy around the transportation bill and developed the Intelligent Transportation Systems Deployment Program Policy; the equity task force focused on how to deploy AVs in a way that increases access and promotes equity and developed policy in four key areas, which is here; and the Vision Zero task force looked at how to best use ITS infrastructure to further the goal of eliminating roadway fatalities and produced the National Vision Zero Policy.
Sustainability & Resiliency
The Sustainability and Resiliency Committee produced two policy documents this year: (1) Sustainability and Resiliency Policy related to the deployment of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), and (2) Road Usage Charge (RUC) Principles focused on the development of a national RUC program. The Sustainability and Resiliency Policy covers light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles; charging and fueling infrastructure and use of rights-of-way; workforce development; electric grid sustainability and resiliency; and development. The board approved this policy in June.
The Committee established the RUC working group to develop a set of principles to guide the development of a national RUC program. The RUC Principles cover recommendations related to a USDOT RUC advisory committee, a nationwide public education campaign, best practices for standards development, modification of the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) program, interoperability standards, and data use, security, and privacy. The board approved the principles in September and will vote on revised principles in December.
V2X and Connected Transportation
The V2X and Connected Transportation Committee had two primary focus areas in 2021: participating in the FCC’s 5.9 GHz band rulemaking process and developing a roadmap for V2X in a future limited spectrum environment.
On May 3, the FCC issued its 5.9 GHz First Report and Order, which reallocates the lower 45 MHz of the 5.9 GHz band for use by unlicensed devices, leaving only 30 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for V2X operations. This proposal was overwhelmingly opposed by the transportation safety community, including USDOT, NTSB, and numerous transportation industry stakeholders. ITS America led a diverse coalition of more than 50 stakeholders in opposing this action – including state, city, and county departments of transportation; public transit, trucking, and transportation safety organizations; and law enforcement and first responders, among others.
As part of the FCC’s 5.9 GHz order, the Commission also issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) focused on outstanding considerations in the remaining 30 MHz of V2X spectrum. ITS America filed comments and reply comments in this process, specifically focusing on three priority issues: (1) preventing harmful interference from degrading the ability of the remaining 30 MHz to function properly for V2X communications, (2) establishing a reimbursement mechanism for stranded V2X deployments and incumbent licensees, and (3) calling on the FCC to identify additional spectrum for V2X communications outside of the 5.9 GHz band.
The future of V2X working group published a 30 MHz Application Map identifying which V2X message types and applications would likely be deployed in a reduced spectrum environment and which would not; the working group presented its initial map on this webinar. In developing the Application Map, the working group evaluated spectrum requirements, safety impacts, and stakeholder priorities for a multitude of V2X applications. The working group identified the need to work with an external researcher to test the assumptions and conclusions made in the Application Map, developed a problem statement and description of the research project, and selected a researcher to complete the project. Working group members have further refined the scope through discussion with the researcher, and the research is expected to be completed in 2022.
At the request of Members of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is currently undertaking an analysis of the impact of the FCC’s 5.9 GHz rulemaking on V2X technologies. GAO requested an interview with ITS America to help inform their analysis, and ITS America staff, leadership of the V2X and Connected Transportation Committee, and select ITS America members met with GAO officials in July to discuss V2X issues and the 5.9 GHz rulemaking. We expect GAO will likely release its report in Spring 2022.
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, technical trainings, and peer exchanges. This included two five-part webinar series on the Complete-Trip ITS4US Deployment Program, a two-part webinar series which highlighted the ITS JPO’s Artificial Intelligence for ITS Program, and webinars focused on the Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program.
Education and outreach were once again a key focus in 2021. ITS America launched a new program in the fall – the UTC Guest Speaker Series, which is sponsored by USDOT and aims to connect transportation leaders and innovators with university and college students. Presented in a panel format, these sessions allow speakers to discuss the cutting-edge technologies that are being developed and deployed to improve the safety and efficiency of the transportation system, highlight their challenges and successes in the field, and share recommendations on how to better prepare for entering the transportation workforce.
We continued to support the ITS Professional Capacity Building Program by offering virtual courses to our state chapters. The goal of these sessions is to enable professionals in the state, local, public, and private sectors the opportunity to access free training on topics such as cybersecurity, improving highway safety with ITS, and ITS procurement. We also conducted research and prepared a report on opportunities for creating and/or expanding ITS student groups and promoting careers in ITS. Highlights of these efforts include:
- Organized, hosted, and facilitated 15 virtual events which reached more than 2,500 ITS stakeholders;
- Planned, facilitated, and delivered 11 virtual trainings to ITS America State Chapters across the country, reaching more than 500 ITS professionals; and
- Organized, hosted, and facilitated inaugural session of the UTC Guest Speaker in October which focused on automated vehicles and reached more than 100 students.
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. We produced and published the first three issues of ITS Insider, with the final issue set to be released in mid-December. This year’s issues focused on Contactless Payment; Vehicle-to-Grid; Urban Air Mobility; and Complete Streets (coming soon).
Forming New Partnerships
CAV Deployer Task Force ITS America’s technical staff managed and facilitated the work of the Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Deployer Task Force, which provides 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.
Advancing roadway automation 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 virtual 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.
Mobility XX To highlight why diverse leadership in transportation is critical to achieving more equitable outcomes, ITS America partnered with WTS International and The Ray to create MobilityXX, with a focus on increasing female representation in the industry. In October, along with our partners, we launched the MobilityXX Pledge campaign, an initiative to increase the number of women from all backgrounds in the transportation workforce by 10% over the next 10 years. The Pledge asks organizations to complete two or more action steps from a menu of options over the next year; to support the initiative, we developed a website, collateral materials, and two social media toolkits. While outreach is ongoing, more than 30 organizations have already signed on, and we are currently developing plans for 2022. In addition, we developed a virtual education series and hosted six discussions in 2021 – including a two-part series we co-hosted with Los Angeles DOT. Launching the pledge program also afforded us additional opportunities to speak about MobilityXX and its goals, including having Laura Chace as a guest on a NewCities podcast about the initiative and an invitation for Laura to talk about it at a gender equity session during the recent LACoMotion conference.
Accessible Mobility Collaborative As an outgrowth of our accessible and barrier-free work, ITS America joined with AVA, AARP, MCity, CALSTART, and SAE to create a roadmap for solving vehicle and infrastructure accessibility challenges. The roadmap, which was designed as an online tool that will be updated as developments warrant, will be launched in a virtual discussion on December 2; the session will be available as part of our annual meeting virtual programming. We hope to build on this work in 2022 – partners have already been invited to present to the Society of Automotive Analysts in March
Digital Education and Events
This year, ITS America developed a digital education series and worked across teams to create topical programming, which included member webinars, issue-based webinars, and online workshops. In 2021, we hosted seven member webinars – these are member-programmed events that ITS America runs on our platform and markets to both our members and the public. Topics included protecting vulnerable road users, the future of V2X, AI for mobility, diversity and inclusion, accessible technologies, 5G, and Mobility on Demand.
We also launched The Blueprint Series: Transforming Transportation Through Technology as an extension of the association’s Blueprint for a Safer, Greener, Smarter Transportation System, which the policy staff created and released in April. The Blueprint Series expanded on several key issues covered in the Blueprint:
- ITS America’s Blueprint for a Safer, Greener, Smarter Transportation System
- How Technology Can Create a More Sustainable and Resilient Transportation System
- Future Proofing our Infrastructure
- Reimagining America’s Transportation System and Outcomes through Automated Vehicle Technology
- How Technology is Helping Protect Vulnerable Road Users
ITS America joined many others in the transportation industry by participating in 2021’s Infrastructure Week by programming two virtual events:
- Shipping, Trucking and the Last Mile
- How Infrastructure Technology is Being Deployed Around the World
After transitioning to all-digital events in March 2020, we have spent much of this year planning for our first in-person event and are finally bringing ITS stakeholders together for the first time since June 2019. Our 2021 Annual Meeting, December 7-10 in Charlotte, will offer both in-person and virtual attendance options and features more than 100 exhibitors and more than 55 in-person and virtual sessions.
As we close out 2021, we are proud of what we have achieved together and look forward to the opportunities 2022 will usher in. Thank you for all you do to bring us closer to our vision of a better future transformed by intelligent mobility – one that is safer, greener, smarter, and more equitable.