April 1, 2016
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Meet the Information Technology Committee!

Information Technology Committee
Chair: William Tsuei, chief technology officer, Valley Metro, chair since 2014
APTA Staff Advisor: Louis Sanders
162 members | Find details here

What is the committee’s role for APTA and the industry as a whole?

The Information Technology Committee serves as the advocate for promoting state-of-the-art computer technology applicable to the public transit industry. The Information Technology Committee provides the opportunity for technology representatives from all APTA member agencies to come together to share experiences, best practices and lessons learned. In addition, the Information Technology Committee serves as the liaison to introduce emerging technology from commercial and private sector vendors to the transit industry.

What are the committee’s top priorities for the year?

As determined by voting members of the committee, there are six areas of focus across Fiscal Year 2016, including real-time and dynamic data, mobile technology, ITS, performance standards and asset management solutions. The top three priorities are critical to the future of the transit industry:

Real Time Information: The committee is looking at GTFS (General Transit Feed Specification), RT (Real Time) and API (Application Program Interface). The committee is aiming to develop consistent formats for real-time data that all public transit users can readily access and follow.

Mobile Apps: Public transit agencies must continue to develop and evolve mobile applications to remain relevant and progressive in an ever-increasing mobile world. Riders not only desire, they demand, the ability to access information and take action with the touch of a fingertip.

For instance, Valley Metro is working to develop a mobile ticketing platform to enable users to receive real-time travel information, purchase fares for both public and private transportation modes and utilize transportation networks companies, such as Uber and/or Lyft, for first-mile, last-mile solutions. The goal would be to build and implement a solution that could serve as the framework for other transit agencies nationwide.

Big Data: The committee is exploring how to use data to manage service quality and budget constraints. Transit agencies collect diverse amounts of dynamic data. The question is how to make sense of it all in areas such as operations, maintenance and advertising. The committee examines how to connect the large sets of data to make improvements without reducing service, impacting quality or sacrificing financial goals.

How does the committee engage members in those priorities?

Members are invited to join task groups, dedicated to each priority, to evaluate and create solutions for each topic. The task groups meet based on varying needs and schedules through conference calls and email sharing. Findings are presented and discussed in further detail at APTA conferences throughout the year.

APTA’s committees play an important role in fulfilling the association’s commitment to developing industry leaders, especially young professionals. Please share how your committee encourages young professionals to participate in its work.

For young professionals, technology and the advancements it creates are not a luxury. They are a basic necessity. The emerging generation has grown up with the rapid advancements of technology.

The committee works to identify ways to introduce transit technology roles to young professionals as well as recruit those with IT experience and fresh ideas that can help improve the quality and level of transit service.

Please share how an individual’s service on this committee can add value to his or her career.

This committee provides an invaluable opportunity to build relationships and network in the industry. Because of my involvement on this committee for the past 10 years, I know nearly every IT leader and technology representative in the industry.

Working with public transit agencies and various technology vendors inspires me to identify new concepts and ideas to bring back for consideration and implementation at Valley Metro. The same is true for every committee member.

Please describe the committee’s work to advance the goals in APTA’s strategic plan.

Technology is traditionally a field many in transit don’t pay much attention to. It’s often viewed as a back office function. However, in the private industry, technology drives the business to generate revenue and service quality.

The work of the Information Technology Committee aims to place technology issues at the forefront of each element of APTA’s strategic plan in order to improve all facets of transit from security to connecting riders of all lifestyles and mobility needs.
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