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TRB ISFO 2023: Overcoming borders and reshaping the future

Feb 2, 2023

From June 26 to 30, 2023, the 4th International Symposium on Freeway and Tollway Operations will take place in Vienna. An international audience will exchange ideas about innovations and new concepts in the field of traffic management. Gummada Murthy, Program Director AASHTO, on commonalities and the potential of international collaboration.

What are the main topics to be addressed at the symposium? To what extent can the TRB Symposium and the gathering of international participants contribute to overcoming the current challenges?

The program focuses on four key elements intended to help identify and promote innovations that help transportation authorities better manage their systems. The four tracks “Governance and Organizational Challenges”, “Managing and Analyzing Operational Strategies and Performance”, “Next Generation of Traffic Management Systems and Services”, and “Innovative Financing to Build and Operate Motorways” will incorporate the experiences of international participants and tell the stories of how their institutions have identified and addressed the challenges they face to serve the travelling public and facilitate the movement of goods. The very act of sharing a wide range of experiences from around the world offers great insight on how we make sense of the challenges we face and tackle them head on with the resources available to us.

How do you assess the value of digitalization, data and climate change for future oriented and sustainable traffic management?

These matters have been front of mind for many years in the United States and we are in a better place now than when we were a decade ago. More and more agencies have a track record of taking on these considerations, admittedly with variable success, but importantly with a baseline of knowledge that affirms the potential positive impacts on traffic management if we get these things right. The shared experiences in Vienna will help us build on early learnings and to integrate new approaches more effectively in particular to digitalization and data acquisition, sharing, and management with a better impact on traffic management.

What are your expectations for the TRB ISFO Symposium 2023?

AASHTO expects strong attendance from the host region but also from North America and Asia Pacific. US state DOT officials will be in attendance to present, listen, and learn. At the same time, we are excited to share our own experiences in what we call Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO). We believe that our surface transportation systems perform better if we apply 21st Century management and operational approaches seamlessly across the entire transportation life cycle. Many state DOTS have TSMO units and now, thanks to several years of research, the US is unveiling a transportation operations manual (TOM) that codifies and shares for the first time the array of practices and technology solutions at the heart of TSMO. State officials will be sharing their TSMO experiences and promoting the TOM throughout the Symposium, including the stand-alone workshop “Three Pillars of Transportation Systems Management and Operations in the United States” which will drill into the details of both. We can’t wait to share our story and get feedback from our international colleagues.

The symposium is jointly organized by US and European partners. The continents are far apart, and each has different conditions in terms of mobility and traffic management. How can Europeans and Americans nevertheless learn from each other?

We have more in common than we do apart. Although each country and region has and continues to develop solutions indigenous to their part of the world and the intellectual capital available, the transportation sector is truly a global community and knowledge sharing and learning is widespread. Academic institutions and the private sector know no boundaries; their work is strengthened by the international perspective, research, and engagement that they bring to bear. And public institutions are supported by national and international associations they participate in, making the pipeline of ideas and practices dynamic and open to all. Settings like the Symposium enable real-time exchanges to happen and pave the way for future collaboration.

Thank you for the interview!

Click here for more information about TRB ISFO 2023.

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