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IBTTA: ‘The only way to keep up is to stay ahead’

First publishedin ITS International
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Orlando, Florida, will be the setting for a revamped meeting with a focus on new technologies
The focus of the IBTTA’s Annual Technology Summit is changing. The tolling organisation’s Bill Cramer explains why this is good news for ITS professionals looking to embrace new technologies

For a decade or more, the technology summits hosted by the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) have helped drive the tolling industry’s embrace of the systems, services and breakthrough concepts that are building a 21st century transportation sector.

Now, the summit itself is adjusting its focus, with a new name, new partners and a revamped programme to reflect a rapidly-shifting mix of roadway technologies and services.

“Anyone who works closely with technology knows that the only way to keep up is to stay ahead,” said IBTTA executive director and CEO Pat Jones. “That’s especially true in tolling, where technology has driven every major innovation we’ve seen for as long as anyone on our board of directors can remember - whether it’s been on the roadway, in the back office or in the executive suite.”

The constantly accelerating pace of change is what makes the Annual Technology Summit such an essential part of IBTTA’s conference schedule: “We know that yesterday’s most exciting new releases are today’s business as usual, and today’s biggest tech breakthroughs are the basic building blocks for tomorrow.”

Services, data and networking

The continuing wave of innovation explains why the IBTTA Summit - previously devoted to all-electronic tolling (AET), interoperability and managed lanes - is now updating and broadening its focus. AET is increasingly becoming the default option for new tolling operations, and a serious consideration for pre-existing ones. And the more recent focus on managed lanes is evolving fast, as agencies begin looking at the strategic advantages and practical applications of integrated managed lane networks.

Meanwhile, a host of new services and options - some of them scarcely imaginable five years ago - are moving to the centre of the industry’s technology dialogue.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is pointing toward new approaches to moving people and freight within a coordinated, convenient system that no longer focuses on just the vehicle. If MaaS is a vision of the future of mobility, with travel happening through a mix of public and private shared transportation modes and combined payment systems, it will be essential for tolling agencies to understand their fit in the broader mobility equation.

Big Data and business intelligence, delivered through online platforms like IBTTA’s TollMiner data visualisation tool, are creating an opportunity and a challenge: they give toll operators the ability to draw insights from the avalanche of customer and usage data they have in hand, while increasingly creating a business imperative for them to do just that.

All of which makes IBTTA’s Annual Technology Summit, 31 March-2 April in Orlando, Florida, a must-attend for anyone who plans to stay ahead of advancing roadway and tolling technology. The Summit will feature four tracks - technology, managed lanes, MaaS and the return of the ever-popular Innovation Tech Talks series. Delegates will get a chance to participate in four specialty roundtables - a session for chief technology and chief information officers, a discussion of global urban mobility solutions hosted by IBTTA and PIARC, a continuation of last year’s successful procurement roundtable and a Tolling 101 panel for industry newcomers.

The summit will also be a golden opportunity for participants to meet and engage with new strategic partners, thanks to IBTTA’s partnerships with ITS International’s MaaS Market, the Transportation Research Board committees on managed lanes and congestion pricing, the Alliance for Toll Interoperability and TEAMFL.

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The venue for the IBTTA Annual Technology Summit
Factor in the IBTTA Foundation Golf Tournament, technical tours to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport and the highly anticipated SunTrax, a packed exhibition hall, and closing roundtables by ATI and TEAMFL, and it all adds up to four great days of learning, networking - and possibilities.

The future your agency will face

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” said famed New York Yankees catcher and resident philosopher Yogi Berra. But here’s one prediction you won’t regret: the conference programme at the Annual Technology Summit will bring together a great many of the key elements your surface transportation company or agency will be working with for years to come.

Programme highlights include:

• From managed lanes to connected networks: It wasn’t very long ago that managed lanes emerged as a standard application for AET technology, delivering congestion relief in crowded urban corridors with no options for building new capacity. Now, transportation planners and decision makers are looking at the shining opportunity to connect adjacent facilities, creating a seamless network that boosts efficiency and reliability for high-volume commuters.

The potential is enormous. The experience so far points to the need to carefully address key aspects of policy, planning, design, tolling, operations, and construction that determine the success of any project. IBTTA members have been at the forefront of the managed lanes revolution from the very beginning, so it should come as no surprise that they’re leading the effort to innovate and build on the original trend.

• From infrastructure to service: Five years ago, Mobility as a Service was scarcely a term. Today, MaaS has become a cutting-edge imperative for any transportation agency or business intent on serving the growing population of millennials who have little or no interest in acquiring a driver’s licence. Trends evolve and change…but right now, it looks like tomorrow’s roadway users will be looking for shared, often multi-modal mobility options that open up new questions and opportunities for tolling agencies. Panellists at the Technology Summit will explore whether MaaS is a threat or an opportunity for the industry (most likely answer: YES!), and field your questions on how the shift to MaaS might affect tolling operations.

• From internal combustion to ‘smart’ cars and cities: The cars that travel our roads have become such a disruptive influence in their own right that they’ve spawned a new acronym. CASE stands for Connected, Automated, Shared and Electric vehicles that are shifting the way we live, work, and travel. Proponents are convinced they’ll improve throughput and make roadways safer, but there’s a diversity of views on the impact they’ll have on roadway congestion - and on transportation finance, as the rapid rise of EVs erodes traditional pools of highway funding. It’s an exciting trend, but the shift will affect everything from infrastructure planning to smart city design, from information technology systems to multimodal systems, from revenue collection to violation enforcement. Panellists at IBTTA’s Annual Technology Summit will dig into the implications.

• From cars with technology to mobile computers: Anyone remember the good old days when automakers were companies that designed and manufactured cars? Today’s vehicles are more like integrated computer systems that happen to have been fitted with wheels, and the technology companies entering the industry have brought a mind-boggling explosion of new services and technologies, opportunities and questions. A provocative panel at the Annual Technology Summit will bring together representatives of technology firms, automakers, wireless operators, and smart cities developers to share their views of the future - and the present.

• From roadside to back office: Technology is reshaping all the standard elements that are essential to a tolling agency’s day-to-day operations, from the roadway to the back office. At the Annual Technology Summit, a session on roadside systems and innovations will bring together the latest on video-based vehicle detection and classification, vehicle occupancy detection, dynamic trip building, advanced traffic and maintenance management, and machine learning. A separate session on back-office systems will look at cloud computing and data mining and analytics as the tools agencies need to build a sophisticated understanding of their various customer audiences.

Putting it all together

With so many possibilities and opportunities, questions and challenges in the mix, every transportation and tolling professional needs a network of expert resources and trusted advisors to help them keep track.

“This summit always covers an incredible range of material, because there is always so much new and exciting to talk about,” Jones notes. “With new technology deployments rolling out every week, the Annual Technology Summit is the place to find the peer and vendor networks that will help you bring the latest, most relevant information back to your organisation.”

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