Knowledge Leader

iSoftStone Joins 2017 ITE/IMSA Transportation Planning Event

Greta Knappenberger
by Greta Knappenberger
Director of Smart Cities

iSoftStone Attends ITE/IMSA 2017 Transportation Annual Meeting

The critical importance of connected transportation

As urban areas become more connected, strategic transportation planning plays a more central role in shaping cities, towns, and suburbs. For this reason, a good transportation system best serves citizens’ needs when it uses new technology and enables cities to “connect the dots.” This requires pulling together information from various elements that impact transportation operations and decision making, including weather, planned special events, and response to unanticipated emergencies. To remain relevant in a contemporary society, it is critically important for cities to deploy a modern connected transportation system that provides value, sustainability, and improved quality of life.

ITE / IMSA 2017 joint transportation planning meeting

To learn more about new transportation technologies and to share my industry insights, I recently represented iSoftStone at the ITE/IMSA Joint Annual Meeting. This event is the annual gathering of the Washington State Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and the Northwest Section of the International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA). In essence, this event serves as the premier trade show in the Pacific Northwest for all traffic and transportation-related products and services. In addition to the general membership, executive committee, and board meetings, the event featured an extensive vendor exhibition, technical break-out sessions, and vendor training seminars. Overall, the training seminars provided the best opportunity to learn how to approach research, development, and adoption of emerging technologies and trends.  This year’s conference included a full-day technical program covering topics such as safety, smart cities, transportation planning, and funding.

Regional transportation planning

Keynote speaker, Don Billen, the Deputy Director of Capital Project Development for Sound Transit, discussed the significance of fast, reliable alternatives to traffic congestion. In November 2016, regional voters approved Sound Transit 3 (ST3), a 25-year mass transit expansion plan adding 62 miles of new Link light rail service. Development of ST3 will bring rapid transit service north, east, and south of Lake Washington. Additionally, it will increase Sounder train capacity on the south line and improve access to stations throughout the system.

Recognizing the region’s rapid population growth, Billen emphasized the importance of ST3. Each year will bring the region new light rail, bus rapid transit, and commuter rail stations. This development around transit investments represents a significant opportunity to shape communities that attract jobs and housing opportunities. Additional benefits include affordable transit at a range of incomes, increased transit ridership, and improved equitable access to opportunities for current and future residents.

Traffic safety culture and Vision Zero

Another noted speaker at the event was Staci Hoff, Research Director at Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC). Hoff spoke about Traffic Fatality Trends and Traffic Safety Culture. Seattle is consistently recognized as one of the safest cities in the country, where over the past decade traffic fatalities declined by 30% despite population growth.  However, accidents still occur every day, claiming close to 20 lives and injuring nearly 150 people each year.

Additionally, Hoff presented Vision Zero, Seattle’s plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by the year 2030. Collisions are often the result of poor behaviors and unforgiving roadway designs. Recommendations included approaching the safety problem from multiple angles –  street designs that emphasize safety, predictability, and decreases the potential for human error. Coupled with targeted education and data-driven enforcement, these solutions will dramatically improve traffic safety.

Target Zero - Transportation Planning
Target Zero – Traffic Fatality Trends and Traffic Safety Culture

Smart cities ‐ A paradigm shift for transportation professionals

In the Smart Cities technical session, speakers from Advantec, Uber, and the City of Bellevue discussed the changing landscape for transportation planning and engineering. Topics included cloud-based services, Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Cars, Autonomous, Connected and Electric Vehicles, as well as First and Last Mile commute solutions.

Traffic Engineering Manager, Chris Long, spoke about Bellevue’s Smart City program.  Bellevue is known as a clean, high-quality environment with reliable infrastructure that supports a vibrant and growing city, including high-tech connectivity. Additionally, the city has a connected multi-modal transportation system, which blends seamlessly with its buildings, plazas, and parks.

During his session, Long presented a video to showcase Bellevue’s Smart City framework, a strategy that focuses on transportation, connectivity, energy, public safety, water, and buildings. The plan leverages investments that have already been made for many of its elements, including:

  • 100% adaptive signal system
  • Over 80 miles of fiber optics
  • 75 traffic surveillance cameras
  • BRT Transit Signal Priority
  • State-of-the-art Traffic Management Center
  • Passed transportation levy with funds targeted toward new technology

Long highlighted key accomplishments to date, including partnering on a Regional Smart City Workshop with Microsoft, Verizon, and the City of Redmond. Bellevue also hired a student consulting program from the University of Washington Evans School to perform a Smart City maturity assessment, and launched Urban Smart Bellevue with Puget Sound Energy.

Additionally, Long shared that Bellevue received a grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for a Smart City dashboard and a grant from the Department of Energy to analyze the drivers of change for greenhouse gas emissions.

Bellevue Smart City Elements
Bellevue Smart City Elements

Key takeaways

These are examples of just a few of the over 21 technical programs focused on the most relevant issues and industry trends including smart cities, data, IoT, and sensors.

iSoftStone was proud to participate in this event, and join ITE/IMSA members, policy makers, transportation and engineering professionals in sharing insights and practices for the benefit of society. It was a collegial and collaborative environment that advanced technical knowledge, provided opportunities for workforce development, an created a forum for global information exchange and networking.

For those interested in the next ITE Washington Meeting on March 16, reserve your spot today!

About ITE

The ITE is an international educational and scientific association of transportation professionals who are responsible for meeting mobility and safety needs. ITE facilitates the application of technology and scientific principles to research, planning, functional design, implementation, operation, policy development and management for any mode of ground transportation. Through its products and services, ITE promotes professional development of its members, supports and encourages education, stimulates research, develops public awareness programs and serves as a conduit for the exchange of professional information.

About IMSA

IMSA is Dedicated to providing quality certification programs for the safe installation, operation and maintenance of public safety systems; delivering value for members by providing the latest information and education in the industry.