Vice President/National Director-Transportation Facilities
Vice Chair, APTA Sustainability Committee
At a very base level, technology is a terrific tool you can use to get information out and get information in. What we need to do in the industry is recognize how best to use this—and enhance what we’re doing through its use.
For your internal operations, technology is the way we’re starting to communicate more: internet wireless, environmental management systems, capturing data for ridership through electronic ticketing. How all this information is synthesized and interpreted to streamline and enhance our performance is really critical.
On the external side, it’s imperative—in today’s age and with the focus on social media—that we use technology to communicate what’s going on, proactively. This applies not only to features like Next Bus but also to incident management and emergency management. Through technology, agencies can help manage expectations and real-time information.
Also, you’re starting to see Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs showing up more and more in public meetings and project planning as a way to solicit—in real time and kind of unfiltered—the public’s thoughts about projects and programs. There’s a lot more information coming in through the door and I think that’s going to increase.
Because we are so connected 24 hours a day, whether for our personal or professional lives, we can be a slave to technology or we can recognize how to use it appropriately—and then be able to direct how we do use it, such as a YouTube video to solicit public input for a rail extension.
On the subject of creating sustainability, inherent to the whole process—including smart buildings and energy efficiency—is that technology can track, monitor, and stay on top of all that. It’s also becoming more prevalent on the social side of sustainability in how people connect and interconnect. We have a responsibility to understand how it’s being used to help folks engage in a way that’s meaningful through its use.