Each year, nearly $200 billion is spent on transportation-related infrastructure1. With this kind of money at stake, it’s critical that Department of Transportation (DOT) authorities responsible for the construction, management and maintenance of the main arteries that traverse this country are equipped with the most comprehensive decision-making tools available. That’s why transportation CIOs are quickly moving from analog car-counting sensor strips to digital data streams captured by Internet of Things (IoT) devices on every light pole – and now, to sophisticated networks of hundreds of thousands of cameras delivering a constant stream of visual data to a centralized control and command center. While the future of transportation depends on embracing these technological changes, according to Logicalis US, an international IT solutions and managed services provider, it’s essential for transportation departments to also employ superior data analytics to effectively analyze traffic patterns; reduce congestion, accidents and collisions; predict changes; and prepare their cities and states to handle “connected” transportation initiatives such as driverless vehicles.

“When it comes to DOT projects, data drives the decision,” says Adam Petrovsky, GovEd Practice Leader, Logicalis US. “As public organizations with the tremendous responsibility of planning, managing and maintaining our most vital roadways, DOT executives are making funding decisions that carry almost unimaginable price tags. To spend responsibly, they not only need access to significant amounts of data, but they need that data to be captured by sophisticated IP video surveillance cameras like Cisco’s 7000 Series and turned into usable information by top computing solutions like IBM’s Watson that can help them make reliable predictions and prepare our transportation systems for the incredible technological innovations on the horizon.”

Clearly, technology is becoming an increasingly important part of the fabric of America’s transportation system. Where highways once grappled with how to create a flashing “detour” sign with a single data stream, today’s most traveled roadways will soon require full Internet connectivity, which means industrial-grade, fully functional, ruggedized, Internet-ready networks uniquely housed either underground or sparsely protected from the elements by freeway overpasses will need to be designed, deployed and managed. It’s a whole new level of technological sophistication that requires streaming massive amounts of live data from traffic systems throughout the country to the cloud, then using data analytics to help make sense of what has been captured.

“This is where an experienced solution provider like Logicalis becomes invaluable,” Petrovsky says. “We can help state and local DOTs with everything from camera installation to managing the video data they’re collecting. As a Cisco Gold Partner, we excel in designing and deploying connected cameras like the vandal-resistant 7000 Series as well as Cisco’s Video Surveillance Manager software solutions and the networks – both wired and wireless – that are needed to take advantage of them. And we understand how to apply data analytics to deliver the information DOT professionals need to make informed decisions. In fact, as a Premier IBM Business Partner, we are already implementing Watson analytics services into smart transportation initiatives.”

Three Reasons Technology Will Drive Smart Transportation

Logicalis experts say the following three truths can help DOT decision-makers capitalize on the vast amounts of information their organizations need to access.

  1. Strategic thinking delivers long-range plans: Resist the urge to buy technology reactively; always think three to five years into the future. How, for example, will you prepare your state or municipality for driverless cars and other automated transportation initiatives? Will you employ IoT devices and sensors to deliver data from street lights, stoplights and train crossings – and what role will IoT play in helping driverless vehicles recognize landmarks, guard rails and street edges? If you invest strategically today, your budget will stretch farther tomorrow.
  2. Connected transportation makes your job easier: Cameras and IoT devices are weaving a giant connected, “smart” network throughout America’s system of highways. Not only will these devices help you with state and local traffic analyses and predictions, but they’ll provide a web of eyes and ears that can alert you to broken bridges, congested off-ramps, and emergency repairs that require immediate attention, allowing DOT employees to be used more strategically.
  3. The public dictates change: The way citizens choose to travel dictates the need for roadway expansions, new high-occupancy or toll lanes, or driverless vehicle infrastructure adaptations. As a result, DOT CIOs need to understand public demand in order to accommodate it, and technology can help deliver the information required to make the needed decisions about transportation change.