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New technology is continuously being developed by both private companies, universities, and federal and state government. In time, these tech developments make their way to the consumers. Sometimes, it takes time for these technologies and bold ideas to become reality due to strict testing standards, or due to existing regulations, or even because there are no existing rules to implement.

…the workshop aimed to discuss ways the program and its partners can: support new technology that reduces or minimizes single occupancy vehicle (SOV) trips; ensure tech advances are distributed equitably; and address Portland’s transportation needs.

This problem is almost universal, and there are instances when the technology is badly needed but there are institutional roadblocks that hinder adoption. In other instances, the problem is getting away while the technology meant to solve that problem has become stagnant and cannot adjust or adapt.

In the transportation industry, there is a need for a quick implementation and adoption because the problem is growing at a very fast clip. There is a tenet in software engineering that a completed program or system is obsolete. The reason for this is due to the time it takes to finish the project. While the project aims to solve a problem, the problem itself has grown or evolved. By the time that the software is ready, it is no longer in a position to solve the problem, which has moved on, evolved, or has become obsolete.

Metro’s Regional Travel Options recently hosted a workshop in Portland, Oregon as part of the Regional Travel Options strategy update. The strategy update itself was meant to guide the program in creating a community which is safe, vibrant, and livable, with the support of partners’ work to motivate an increase in walking, bike riding, ridesharing, telecommuting, and the use of public transit.

Portland Transportation Options

The aim of the workshop was to discuss transportation technology for the Greater Portland Area. Specifically, the workshop aimed to discuss ways the program and its partners can: support new technology that reduces or minimizes single occupancy vehicle (SOV) trips; ensure tech advances are distributed equitably; and address Portland’s transportation needs.

The workshop emphasized on 4 themes where technology can help reach the goals:

  1. Local partners. Going local means that the partner knows the area, specific problems, and concerns, and have a stake in the solution. This helps facilitate the assistance and cooperation between public agencies and the private sector. Public agencies can easily collect data, but the technology development is faster with the private companies. The workshop also encourages ways that allow for flexibility of funding as well as the nexus for collaborations.
  2. Innovate for travel options. The above travel options are the current list of available technology, but they are expected to change along the way to 2035. The technologies to be developed have to make some leeway for other dependent or supplementary technology being developed by other entities. In addition, there might be options which are best or applicable in some situations, while others would work better in a different scenario. These have to be taken into consideration.
  3. Collect and share data. There is a lot of available data from traffic conditions, to volume of passengers, foot traffic and others. Government agencies are the best source of data, and a centralized repository would allow for private companies and other stakeholders to access and use the data for their tech development, in line with the goals of the program.
  4. Access for all. Transportation and technology to be of the most use has to address how it would be used by low income communities. Developing for these communities would ensure a wider acceptance of technology, and a better chance of success for the program.

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