The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association is hosting its 86th Annual Meeting and Exhibition next week in Baltimore. Ahead of the conference, SmartBrief caught up with Chris Body, VP of Sales at Kapsch TrafficCom. Chris is the leader of the Technology Track for the conference, so we asked him how innovation is changing the industry and what to expect in the Charm City.
As the leader of the Technology Track at the Annual Meeting, give us a sense for the kinds of sessions that will be on the agenda in Baltimore?
One of the things we wanted to focus on at the Annual Meeting was some higher level technologies that are prevalent in other industries and business and are making their way into the tolling space. From using smartphones to pay tolls to connected vehicles to drones, we have many of the new exciting technologies and applications covered.
All of us in the industry have to embrace most of these new technologies because our customers are. They expect real time updates on roads status in real time - via WAZE, social media, etc). Some of the other tracks will be addressing marketing and communicating via social media and using big data analytics to enhance collections. Top to bottom most of the tracks, while not part of the “Technology Track” per se, will be addressing various ways to use technology to provide better service to your customers.
Definitely an exciting time to be in the industry.
What does the rapid advancement in the connected and autonomous vehicles spaces mean for the tolling community? Are there any cities/states that are leading the way when it comes to managing this new transportation reality?
While CAV and AV have been the stuff of science fiction for decades it seems as though we are moving closer to this reality, especially on the technology front. Seems the technology development and testing is a bit ahead of the operational, legal and administrative issues, but I am sure they will catch up as we deploy and test more of these systems. Of course, California and Michigan have been leaders, but Ohio, PA, MD, CO, FL and many others have deployed or have near term plans to deploy test sites. I expect most states to have some type of CV/AV test sites in the near future.
What is Mobility-as-a-Service and how what kind of impact will it have on the tolling community?
I see mobility as a service as the “gig” economy coming to transportation with minimal assets owned and operated by the road user or consumer - whether travel be by toll road, non-tolled, bus, rail, etc. The expectation is that the user would have a single user interface to order or consume the service - typically a smart phone – and a single payment system for the their services.
I think MaaS would have a positive impact on the tolling community as VMT is expected to increase and toll facility usage would increase accordingly. Also as many toll roads are the fastest mode from point A to point B, I could see a future where the toll community gets more than its fair share.
But as a consumer driven industry, we must stay alert to these changes to provide the service that the motorists value.
What does the future look like for collecting tolls via mobile payments?
While in its early stages, collecting tolls via mobile payments has a bright future especially for occasional users of facilities such as HOT Lanes or rental cars. Smart Phones have been a disruptive force in almost every industry, so it would be foolish to think that we would be immune to them. Expect to see a number of mobile apps to be competing for market share over the next few years.
There is a session at the Annual Meeting where the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTAP) Collision Reconstruction Unit (CRU) will detail how it uses drones to respond to any motor vehicle collision that results in serious injuries. In what other innovative ways are new technologies being used within the IBBTA community?
It is an exciting time to be in the toll industry, pretty much all newer technology innovations, smart phones, drones, social media, defense technology is being applied to toll road deployment and operations and maintenance. The use of some innovative defense technologies are allowing much more efficient deployments of AET systems and predictive systems are streamlining maintenance and operations, notifying operators of predicted failures before they occur.
Which sessions beyond the Technology Track are you excited to attend at the Annual Meeting
Frankly, all of them. The team has done a great job of pulling together a holistic view of new technologies that will be affecting toll facility operations and management for years to come.