“ITS is the promise of using technology to draw people together” – A discussion with Regina Hopper

 Last week at the 2016 ITS America Annual meeting in San Jose, CA, Miovision caught up with ITSA President and CEO, Regina Hopper. We asked her three simple questions:

  1. What will transportation look like in 10 years?
  2. What’s your biggest traffic pet peeve?
  3. What are you reading currently?

Her answers might surprise you – audacious education, accessible mobility, and children’s books are featured. Listen to the conversation, and find out how ITSA is making Intelligent Transportation relevant to us all.

Continue reading for the summary of our interview with Regina, click here to jump to the full transcript or click below to listen to the podcast:


“True visionaries in the Intelligent Transportation field will take what’s currently a deficit and turn it into an positive.”
– Regina Hopper


What do you think transportation will look like in 10 years?

Transportation needs to become multimodal, meaning all citizens have access to one payment system that enables movement between public and private transportation modes, enabling everyone to move freely around the city.

ITS is the promise of using technology to draw people together, and benefit from the economic development and quality of life that comes from accessible transportation… this is not going to be easy.

Check out ITS leadership projects that Regina mentioned:
USDOT Smart City Challenge
FTA Mobility on Demand

What’s your biggest traffic pet peeve?

Living in DC… congestion. There’s no predictability in travel time. Real-time traffic solutions can help commuters not get so crazy about congestion, and plan their lives better based on immediate information.

What are you reading?

Professionally :
Everything I can on ITS, including press and trade magazines, newspapers and DOT’s Beyond Traffic.

Currently I’m reading a book for young adults called The Scavenger Hunt. The book teaches kids how to solve problems in life through puzzles, problem solving, and creative thinking.

“This book has helped me think about how to re-frame the conversation about intelligent transportation with audiences who aren’t traditionally part of the ITS America community.”

ITS America is all about bringing in new audiences, and talking to people about what ITS is. People don’t realize when they’re using ITS. You can build a bridge and cut a ribbon. You don’t see data. It’s very hard for people to connect Waze or connected vehicles or synchronized lighting with ITS because it’s helping them get around.

If we as an industry don’t define it, then who will? That’s what started the social media campaign #ThisisITSWe’re not going to build our way out of some of our transportation challenges, but we can certainly use intelligence to move us forward.

Regina’s Recommended Reads:
Beyond Traffic from DOT
The Book Scavenger, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Full Transcription

Erin Skimson: I’m with Regina Hopper, who is the president of ITS America, and Regina, thank you for joining us.

Regina Hopper: Thank you. Thanks.

Erin Skimson: We’ve got three questions for you today. Curious, what do you think transportation is going to look like in 10 years?

Regina Hopper: Gosh, wouldn’t that be nice to know, right? I spend a good part of my time traveling around the world, so we have to look at transportation multimodal, and I think the vision is that it becomes very multimodal, right? To where if you had your way, you would have one payment system that would allow you to move across both private and public transportation modes.

That it would allow you to freely move around the cities no matter what your particular issues are. Whether you’d be someone who’s fully sighted, fully able to hear, fully mobile, or maybe even those you have those issues that can’t—that now are sort of kept from moving around the cities.

I think ITS is really supposed to be the promise of all of that. It’s supposed to be the promise of using technology to draw people together to say transportation, economic development that comes from transportation, the quality of life that comes from transportation allows all of us to move together.

That’s what I’m hoping it begins to look like, and we’re really fortunate at ITS America to have a very close working relationship with USDOT and they’ve started thinking—or they think this way, but they’ve started doing projects to think this way as well. Smart City Challenge, certainly, is one of them.

…and then the FTA. The Transit Administration has just released its new shadow box, which allows you to talk about integrated mobility. They call it mobility on demand, in a much different way, so listeners might want to go take a look at that and see, but that, to me—

I think it’s going to be difficult, just because here in the United States, in particular, we’re restrained in our infrastructure funding. That having been said, I think ITS and the true visionaries in the intelligent transportation field can take what is right now what is kind of a deficit and turn it into a positive.

We’re not going to build our way out of some of our transportation—service transportation modes, but we can certainly use intelligence to move us forward, so that’s what I like to see.

Erin Skimson: Fantastic. It’s exciting. It’ll be exciting to watch that grow in the next 10 years. Yeah, it’s fantastic.

Regina Hopper: Wouldn’t it? Yeah, it would. Mm-hm.

Erin Skimson: What’s your biggest traffic pet peeve?

Regina Hopper: Well, I live in Washington, so like Atlanta, like Las Angeles, like many of our big cities around the country—New York—it’s just congestion. You know?

You can’t—it’s the lack of predictability. Right? So if you know it’s going to take you an hour to get six miles, you just plan for it. It’s when you don’t know that it’s going to take you the hour, and that’s why you see—I think—real time traffic solutions being helpful with regard to people not getting so crazy.

You know? Like, Waze will tell you you’re going to sit there for an hour if you go that way. Even, you know, like in Washington, traffic is just so unpredictable, and I think that, for me, makes it hard.

Because all of us, whether we want time for work or we want time for our personal lives, or recreation, it’s in that unpredictability that will drive you crazy and put a lot of stress into your day, so—

Erin Skimson: Absolutely. Very good. What are you reading right now?

Regina Hopper: The work side of me—I read everything I can on intelligent transportation, so I read all of the trade magazines, I read all of the trade press, but I also, because of my tech and energy background, I try to keep up with all of that as well, so—and then, I’m a political nerd, so it’s a political season, so I try to read all of that as well.

You will often see me with my head in my cellphone, because I read everything, almost, mobile-y. Even though I love—I do take paper, so if anybody’s reading this, I am a newspaper girl, but I also like to, you know, have my head in my cellphone.

That’s what I’m reading and, honestly, the geek in me—I read Beyond Traffic, from DOT—

Erin Skimson: Excellent.

Regina Hopper: …almost all the time, because it was supposed to be a visionary document that laid out a way for you to think forward when you got stuck, so I’ll often to go Beyond Traffic from USDOT and read that.

The personal side of me, though, lately, has been going to books that are for young adults, and the reason that I’m doing that is because I was a Harry Potter fan, and so I would meticulously read every word of Harry Potter, and while toward the end of that, it got to be more adult and adult-driven content.

But right now I’m reading a book called The Book Scavenger, and The Book Scavenger is for young to mid adults, and it’s meant to teach young kids and students how to solve problems in life through puzzle solving, cipher solving, problem solving, and as we’ve been trying to define what ITS America should be about and how we should move forward, it’s about bringing in new audiences. It’s about talking to people about what ITS is in a way that they don’t understand.

For example, there are many industries that are intelligent transportation, but they don’t use that term, ITS, so if you say I’m with ITS America, they go okay. And they have no identity with that at all. But if I say intelligent traffic or intelligent transportation technologies, they’ll go okay, I don’t understand that at all. Then I say, well, what about connected cars? Oh, that’s cool.

Well, I do that, or I’m in autonomous vehicles, or I’m in real data solutions, but they don’t say ITS, so honestly, what this book has done is it’s helped me think to reframe, to begin talking about ITS with audiences that aren’t traditionally here.

That’s why we started the social media campaign #ThisIsITS because even DOT said it this morning, one of the problems is is that people don’t realize when they’re using it.

You can build a bridge and cut a ribbon. You don’t see data. It’s very hard for people to say, oh, Waze, that’s ITS, you know, because it’s helping me get around. Oh, connected vehicles, or vehicle to infrastructure, or synchronized lighting. They don’t know what that is, so if we as an industry don’t define it for them, who is going to do it? That’s what I’ve been trying to do.

#ThisIsITS. Continue it. Use it—Twitter, Snap, Instagram, Facebook, wherever you may be, use it.

Erin Skimson: Perfect. That’s great, and I love that the—the Nexus is from a children’s book.

Regina Hopper: Yeah, well, I love the children’s book—yeah. Well, and sometimes we get lost, sometimes, in complexity, and sometimes simplicity allows us to get down to the bottom line, so I kind of like that.

Erin Skimson: Well, I think you’re doing a great job of bringing this complex idea to the audience in a really digestible way, so congratulations.

Regina Hopper: Well, thank you.

Erin Skimson: Thank you for your time today.

Podcast Music from http://www.bensound.com/.

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