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Tolling Points

A New Era of Collaboration Within the Toll Industry

By: 
JJ Eden, North Carolina Turnpike Authority

Guest blog by JJ Eden, Executive Director, North Carolina Turnpike Authority
This article appeared in the June issue of Traffic Technology International


Over the last twenty years, technology has transformed our economy, society, and our environment. As the world has continuously adapted to this transformation, industries and individuals have adapted to changing business needs and customer demands. This adaptation has never been more prevalent than in the face of COVID-19. The entire globe has primarily adapted to an entirely different way of working and living. We have the chance to make the necessary adaptations to new technologies gradually and successfully as opposed to the overnight changes caused by COVID-19. Gradual and successful adaption to recent changes is the impetus for non-governmental organizations. Leaders from across the transportation industry created organizations with visions that facilitate collaboration between toll operators worldwide to learn and standardize industry practices to provide best-in-class platforms and customer experience. By establishing a forum to discuss and invest in ideas, our industry can work together to build a future that is ready for autonomous vehicles, as-as-service business models, and cross-industry integration. There are three major areas to focus on as an industry: toll system platforms, mobile payments, and collaboration.

Toll system platforms will enable toll agencies to build systems that allow timely integration of new systems and products. These platforms are everyday tools that include things like social media and eCommerce tools we use every day. Platforms enable organizations to grow and meet business needs while users participate in product priorities and needs. Many toll systems and back-office systems operate within a vendor customized technological silo that limits the adaptation to new technologies. As an industry, we need to work to open these systems up to provide open channel partners that can bring new payment options for customers on the tolling platform.

Another essential part of advancing the toll systems is to adapt to mobile-first initiatives. With the continued high adoption rates of smartphones worldwide, mobile payments have become more necessary for consumers and businesses. As we approach new products and solutions, develop mobile-first initiatives to sole use customer or internal platforms using mobile solutions where possible.  Mobile payments will drive eCommerce solutions and provide customers and drivers more options. Toll agencies must look at emerging mobile payments to adapt to this technology. Mobile connectivity is a mission-critical objective to ensure continued operation as the world moves forward into a more connected economic system.

As a community of industry leaders, our goal is to foster diverse user groups to share information that will standardize the toll industry approach to acquisition, implementation and maintenance, and operations of its revenue management systems. Organizations within our industry must remain flexible and studious as we learn and adapt to emerging technologies. The toll industry has a history of rigid business models and operations. The idea of collaboration will rely on our flexibility and ability to communicate.

With these three goals in mind, our society, businesses, and agencies will be better prepared for the changes ahead. With the right preparation and investment, these unprecedented changes become an exciting opportunity instead of a looming behemoth and open our channels to new partners to increase payment options and provide outstanding customer service.

Newsletter publish date: 
Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - 08:30

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