Information technology (IT) has transformed many industries, from education to health care to government, and is now in the early stages of transforming transportation systems. While many think improving a country’s transportation system solely means building new roads or repairing aging infrastructures, the future of transportation lies not only in concrete and steel, but also increasingly in using IT. IT enables elements within the transportation system—vehicles, roads, traffic lights, message signs, etc.—to become intelligent by embedding them with microchips and sensors and empowering them to communicate with each other through wireless technologies. In the leading nations in the world, ITS bring significant improvement in transportation system performance, including reduced congestion and increased safety and traveler convenience. Unfortunately, the United States lags the global leaders, particularly Japan, Singapore, and South Korea in ITS deployment. For the most part, this has been the result of two key factors: a continued lack of adequate funding for ITS and the lack of the right organizational system to drive ITS in the United States, particularly the lack of a federally led approach, as opposed to the “every state on its own approach” that has prevailed to date.
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