Smart Highways magazine’s newest columnist, Andy Graham, is calling on the industry to concentrate on where funding will come from, in order to make sure great ideas become reality.
In his first contribution since joining the magazine’s columnist team, the leading British consultant writes: “we are no longer an island of specialism and at long last have customer service, marketing and mainstream IT technology underpinning what used to be called “ITS”. This means things are easier and cheaper to use (if not free), work reliably and are easy to adopt. The smartphone is the device for location and navigation, ticketing and tolling, as a data source for journey times and even for making phone calls. But in this have we gone too far? Have we lost sight of the one thing we – and only we – can do …. manage and operate roads?”
He then goes on to remind us of Tom Cruise movie “Jerry Maguire” and its catchphrase “show me the money”.
“I just wonder where the money is now in ITS and if those now dominating the agenda really understand the importance of the roads they use – something that used to be the foundation for ITS?” Graham writes, before giving some examples of where the Industry might come unstuck.
“Self driving vehicles are the baby of automotive and big IT players like Google, yet seem to be developing without a strong link to the roads they need. They will need white lines for their cameras to follow, or highly accurate digital maps to follow but who will pay for these and their upkeep? Show me the money…
“I see many pictures of self driving cars zooming through junctions without signals. That’s fine if we can remove overnight all existing vehicles and not allow pedestrians or cyclists either! So we are left with mixtures of human driven and autonomous vehicles, so who will pay for changes to traffic control systems, enforcement systems and monitoring roads authorities will need to make to support this? Show me the money…”
And, “Many of the local authorities I know face day to day challenges on potholes, roadworks and keeping ancient roadside equipment alive with ever reducing funding. Yet they also need to consider connected and automated vehicles, open data and other new ideas. “Show me the money” isn’t just about research funding and pilots – welcome as they are – but also about making sure the basics are also in place for the high tech to use.”
The owner of White Willow Consulting concludes his column with some a call to find a smarter way to fund the basics. You can read his full explanation of his thoughts in the forthcoming issue of Smart Highways which goes to print this weekend.