The charismatic director of Utah DOT, Carlos Braceras, called for bold visions in transportation as he spoke at one of the opening conference sessions at the ITS World Congress in Los Angeles, on Sunday, September 18, 2022.
Even before the official opening ceremony a full day of conference sessions took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, with Braceras speaking in an all-star panel that also featured, Ashley Nylen, assistant director for mobility technology at Colorado DOT; Everett Lott, director of the District DOT; and Dreana Kalili, special projects manager at Hawaii DOT.
The session – Making the AI connection for next-generation transportation systems – was chaired by Monali Shah, head of industry solutions for Google Public Sector.
Braceras spoke about how he had come up with a ‘top 10’ targets for transportation, which ended up being known as ‘Carlos’s top 10’, on an internal flight to Washington DC. But, he said, the content wasn’t as important as the fact that he had done it.
“Don’t worry too hard about being too scientific about how you set a vision,” he said. “Set the vision, set the bar and make it something that is really hard to achieve. And then people will get there. That’s the message.”
Bracaras cited the example of how Utah began rolling out fiber optic backbone for its ITS infrastructure in the mid-90s. Even though the investment was sometimes questioned at the time, now it is paying huge dividends.
Later Everett Lott spoke of the efforts in Washington DC to ensure that access to transportation is as equitable as possible. “We feel – the mayor feels and I feel – that everyone should be able to access reliable, accessible transportation, from their home, from their place of worship, from their school, to get from point A to point B,” he said.
“We recognize that we still have some areas in the district, as I’m sure you all can relate to in your respective areas, where there are some transportation deserts,” continued Lott. “And so, I’m committed to making sure that we’re filling those transportation voids.”
Shah wrapped up the session saying: “Technology has the power to support the work that is happening. The time has come for us to move. We have the investments, we have the dollars coming in, we have the priorities at a national level, at a local level, and at the state level. So hopefully, you all feel inspired to move in the right direction and take action and share the things that that you’re doing , so that we can scale impacts across the country and across the world.”