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Tolling Points

IBTTA's All-Electronic Tolling, Managed Lanes & Technology Summit's Future Roadmap Builds on Today's Technologies, Tomorrow's Possibilities

By: 
Bill Cramer

Susan Buse of SBuse Consulting, Jeff Weiss of Gannett Fleming Inc., and Joe Averkamp of Parsons Corporation are the track chairs for IBTTA’s Managed Lanes, AET & Technology Summit, April 22-24, 2018 in Charlotte, NC. In this interview with Tolling Points, they look at the powerful takeaways Summit participants can expect from the three main tracks of discussion onsite—technology, business and operations and Tech Talks.

What groundbreaking or unexpected insights will participants take away from the sessions in your track?

JA: Participants in the Technology Track will learn about real-world product developments that can help them today, as well as where the future will take us. Presenters will talk about new approaches to detecting and enforcing HOV restrictions on toll roads using next-generation machine learning, and the impact of connected and autonomous vehicles on toll road operations and design. They’ll discuss technology that is making road systems easier to maintain and show how regional and nationwide interoperability between toll systems is being delivered.

SB: The Business and Operations Track will look at options for improving today’s tolling operations, by solving the challenges sitting on participants’ desks today. With agencies collecting so much data every day, the financial benchmarking will focus on appropriate disclosure, suitable benchmarks for comparing different operations, and proven approaches to demonstrating accountability and improving trust, without putting privacy at risk or exposing operations to premature scrutiny.

Also, a panel of expert practitioners from the United States and Europe will discuss best practices and realistic expectations for managing risk and protecting assets in today’s environment. In a real-world environment, that means balancing risk mitigation with budgets, keeping management expectations in line with competing priorities, and implementing effective training without hurting efficiency.

JW: The three overarching themes for the Tech Talks are future innovations, disruption, and the positive power of change. We’ll hear top industry leaders challenge status quo thinking with the goal of sparking discussions and engagement that spill out of the sessions and into the conference at large.

What's the end goal? Where do you think tolling and transportation will be in the next 15 to 20 years, and what developments do you see today that are pointing us in that direction?

JA: The system will change dramatically over the next 15 to 20 years, with fully automated vehicles growing into a significant share of the fleet. Already today, automated vehicles can go about 6,000 miles with no intervention by a human driver—they’re better than 80% of humans in 80% of situations, and they’re improving all the time. As computational power increases, they’ll be able to push beyond the routine situations like stop-and-go traffic where they already excel. Many of these vehicles will be operated by ride-hailing services, which means we’ll have to figure out the implications for HOV enforcement, violations, and standard procedures for collisions when there is no driver. Many of the leading transportation thinkers already believe we’re heading into a world of Mobility-As-A-Service (MAAS), where you pay for transportation as you use it—just as you do on a toll road.

SB: With the funding shortage, there is clearly a renewed focus on tolling as one of the tools to improve our aging infrastructure. Without a coordinated federal mandate, states and regions are moving to solve their own transportation challenges, and we’re seeing managed lane initiatives and new toll roads in metropolitan areas across the U.S. Other parts of the world are also evaluating priced lanes, private concessions, and new technologies to solve their problems. As toll industry professionals with a long history of successful operations, IBTTA members have much to contribute to the conversation—but first, we must be sure we’re using best practices, taking advantage of new technologies and committing to continuous improvement. That’s one great reason to keep attending IBTTA conferences.

JW: Tolling and transportation are changing at a faster pace compared to the past 10 to 20 years. There’s been tremendous growth in the use of managed lanes to deliver congestion relief on existing roadways with underutilized HOV lanes, or by adding tolled managed lanes to increase capacity. Transportation also relies more and more heavily on technology and data, with the arrival of connected vehicles and the rise of Smart Cities approaches. Both of those areas of innovation are in their infancy today and in the future will be points of coalescence for tomorrow’s transportation system.

What can participants expect to see, hear, learn, or do differently as a result of attending the sessions in your track?

JA: Attendees will learn about best practices that can help them today, including new test methods for license plate recognition systems, implementation of multi-protocol readers, new lane technologies, and new enforcement solutions. The program will also give them a snapshot of the future, to help them build their strategic plans for the next five to 10 years. We all get consumed in the need to meet the day-to-day obligations of our jobs, but it is critically important to hear from experts and compare notes with industry colleagues about the next wave of challenges around the corner.

SB: Participants will return home from this Summit with a stronger commitment to asking the right questions, focusing on risk management and cooperating and collaborating with their teammates. We might expect some disaster recovery plans to be pulled off the shelf and updated, with training and practice sessions added to the management calendar for 2018 and additional resources incorporated into the budget for 2019. Finance managers might set up meetings with their operations colleagues to coordinate disclosure and data management more closely, possibly revise data collection methods and reports. IT managers might approach their communication managers with input and perspective on upcoming releases and solicit their advice for internal staff messaging.

JW: Tech Talks attendees can expect to hear from industry thought leaders offering a mix of innovative ideas, new practices, and new technologies. With an eye to the future and a glance at the past, speakers will provide a future roadmap on mobility, connected vehicles, express lanes, next-gen interoperability, and a host of other thought provoking topics.

Sign up today for IBTTA’s Managed, Lanes, AET & Technology Summit, April 22-24, 2018 in Charlotte, NC.