EXCLUSIVE: Greg Winfree issues challenge to ITS America to prepare for connected vehicles


USDOT Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, Greg Winfree (above), used his opening remarks at the ITS America San Jose ‘SuperSession’ yesterday morning (June 15) to issue the challenge of preparing for V2X technologies to the gathered transportation professionals.

Winfree took the stand alongside distinguished leaders in the transportation world including Gregory Nadeau, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration and Scott Darling, acting administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, at the ITS America event taking place at the McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, California (below).

“Smarter vehicles and infrastructure can empower transportation agencies and travelers with powerful multimodal tools that save time and reduce costs,” said Winfree. “Despite the potential benefits, implementation poses a huge challenge. Where do we direct our investments and how do we pay for it? There are resources available that help answer these questions, as well as existing and forthcoming mechanisms for financing state and municipal investments in connected vehicle infrastructure technologies.

“The FAST Act isn’t a perfect funding bill for transportation, but it is a win for early adopters who recognize how connected vehicle technology can enhance safety, operations and management. Congress and this administration have made Vehicle to Infrastructure a priority, as is reflected in this bill. Connected vehicles are coming to our roadways. The question is, will we – will the folks in this room – be ready to reap the benefits of connected vehicle technology? That is something that can only be answered by leaders and decision makers who understand that the time is now.”

Nadeau (above right) echoed Winfree’s calls for focus on these new technologies and cited deployment as the key to hastening their uptake and making the benefits of V2X clear. “This is technology that exists today,” said Nadeau. “It will take continued refinement and evolution, but it also takes adequate deployment. The colalition that we have formed with our partners at ITS America, AASHTO and Institute of Transportation Engineers, to focus on the deployment of this technology, deployment of necessary infrastructure to accommodate everything in that space, is something we are focused like a laser beam on right now. We are focused on preparing the infrastructure for what is coming and providing guidance for that.”

The enlightening hour-long discussion, which also included several questions from eminent professionals in the audience, ranged over many other topics including workzones, truck parking, mobility on demand, cargo ports, system interoperability and the USDOT’s Smart City Challenge, which was roundly praised for galvanizing huge activity in this area across the USA.

Summing up ITS America president and CEO Regina Hopper (above), who was moderating the session, said, “Transportation can become the center of the Internet of Things and defining what a smart city is. The Smart City Challenge concept could have originated from any agency within the federal government, because you have homeland and national security, you have healthcare related issues, you have education related issues, all of which are advanced by smart city technology. But it originated at the USDOT. And we should be proud of our transportation industry and proud of the USDOT that they have the foresight and energy and really just the gumption to keep pushing this idea forward, through the secretary, and all the way through all the modes, to say that smart city initiatives are going to be what advances our cities on all levels. So we want to thank the USDOT for having that foresight and for moving it forward.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).