Urban sprawl, traffic congestion, roadway fatalities, environmental degradation, climate change, an ageing infrastructure and a funding crisis… The challenges faced by transportation policy makers and operators in the United States may never have been so great. Undoubtedly, they were never so complex, to the point that little consensus exists on how to best move forward. However, few would oppose calls for innovative financing, institutional reforms, and widespread adoption of information technologies. At Novavia Solutions, we believe that these are the three pillars that can support more virtuous policies, safe and efficient operations, and infrastructure renewal.
If this sounds easier said than done, we agree! Novavia Solutions went into business to take on those challenges. Our key operating principles include design thinking, interdisciplinary perspective, and a commitment to excellence. We put those to work toward a specific vision that revolves primarily around applications of information technology, not only to improve transportation network operations but also to steer the evolution of mobility in socially efficient ways. Novavia’s vision is a five-point plan:
e-Governance: information technology has become all-pervasive in society, and transportation agencies must step up their game in order to stay relevant. Channels need to open to exchange data and information services with citizens, businesses and other government agencies. E-Governance also means incorporating policy-making that leverages networks and market mechanisms in place of in-house operations and programs.
User-Centered Design: in recent years, the discipline of industrial design has evolved toward services and user experiences. There lies a huge opportunity for transportation service providers to reinvent how they operate. Programs and projects that focus on understanding incentives and emotional appeal will shape the future of mobility.
Data-Driven Decisions: every day, terabytes of data describing transportation demand, flows and events are collected –but not always recorded. The savings that result from making the right infrastructure and operational investments based on a well-read interpretation of this data cannot be overstated. To get there, agencies need to strengthen their monitoring infrastructure, establish performance measures, and adopt data visualization and decision-support tools.
Economic Pricing: current pricing of transportation services and infrastructure most often ignores both costs and value –it is driven by independent fiscal considerations that do not amount to a cohesive policy. Technology provides the toolbox to transition from shared misery to efficient and fair resource allocation while raising the revenue necessary to match capacity with demand.
Zero Fatalities: Last but not least, we envision active safety technology eliminating virtually all crashes in the near future. Vehicles will be driving themselves quite safely within a decade or two. In the meantime, we simply cannot accept that the daily activity of driving be the leading cause of death for our youth. Current technology can already prevent car accidents and must be deployed.
“Although [an] engineering perspective was effective in the early days of building our rail, highway, transit, and port systems, it only focuses on the infrastructure side of a complex and sophisticated network essential to moving people and goods reliably and efficiently.” – National Surface Transportation and Revenue Study Commission