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Watch for Emerging Issues, Tolling Innovations at IBTTA’s Communications and Administration Workshop

Bill Cramer


Anna Salvagin, Senior Program Manager at AECOM, and Michelle Maikisch, Chief of Staff at the Central Florida Expressway Authority, are Co-Chief Meeting Organizers for IBTTA’s Communications and Administration Workshop, March 12-14, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. In this interview with Tolling Points, they talk about the hot-button issues on the horizon for tolling and how the industry can address them.

What do you see as the most important emerging issues for the industry over the next three to six months?

AS: Violation enforcement across state lines is one of the more prominent hot-button issues faced by states with tolling programs throughout the country. The rapid deployment of all-electronic tolling brings the challenge of collection enforcement to secure financial obligations and deliver a tolling program that is fair to paying customers. Low gas prices have increased interstate travel, resulting in more violations across state lines. The latest trends in politics are for less intrusive policies, and sometimes interstate enforcement is seen as an overreach. That means it’s up to toll agencies to educate leadership and stakeholders on the value and fairness of toll collection and enforcement.

What kind of local tolling innovations and success stories can participants expect to learn about while they’re in Tampa?

MM: Innovation is about delivering results. Whether you are an executive director, a human resources manager, a cybersecurity director, or a communications professional, your job is to close the gap between results promised and results delivered. In talent recruitment and retention, that means using online platforms to find the employees who are our most valuable asset, then developing the in-house tools and programs to retain them. In communications management, it’s about a well thought out, performance-driven plan that can be executed in a 140-character age.

What can participants expect to gain by attending the three sessions at this workshop on cybersecurity and crisis communications?

AS: The industry is automating to meet the demand for convenience and real-time results, but that means safeguarding customers’ data and financial information. The cybersecurity sessions bring a variety of perspectives from federal law enforcement, legal counsel, technology, communications and public affairs, finance, and educational institutions. We’ve all had moments of crisis when we had to “extinguish the flame” rather than letting it erupt. Cybersecurity is all about prevention, but toll agencies also need to know what responses work and which ones don’t when a breach actually occurs.

How do high-profile technologies like autonomous vehicles affect your agency’s local communication activities, from the point of view of opportunities, challenges, or both?

MM: Several agencies across Florida are studying or piloting projects that will better prepare us all for the advent of autonomous vehicles. A key challenge and opportunity in our communication efforts will be to maintain a unified, consistent public message when we talk about this emerging technology. The same is true for all-electronic tolling, where customers are looking for safe, reliable, convenient travel from point A to point B. The March Workshop will look at how to simplify the message and effectively communicate with the travelling public that chooses our systems.

Which sessions are you most looking forward to hearing during this workshop, and why?

AS: I’m thrilled with the mix of topics for this year’s roundtable discussions. The small-group format will give us a chance to “get into the weeds” on our specific areas of interest. IBTTA conferences and workshops are always a great place for participants to discuss their experience, share knowledge, and ask questions about the topics that matter to them the most. You can bet that the roundtable discussions will pour out into the hallway afterwards and become a part of the networking during the Workshop

MM: The cybersecurity and data privacy sessions will give me some best practices and methods to share with our team after the meeting. The Central Florida Expressway Authority board and staff have adopted a customer focus mission that includes ensuring that we do all we can to protect the information customers share with us. While we have processes and security measures in place, the recent breaches in corporate America underscore the need for constant vigilance and rapid response.

It’s not too late to register and attend IBTTA’s Communications and Administration Workshop, March 12-14, 2017 in Tampa, FL.  I hope to see you there.