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Paving Ways for a Smart Traveler

By Bill Taylor, CIO & Deputy Director, Ohio Department of Transportation

Bill Taylor, CIO & Deputy Director, Ohio Department of Transportation

How would you describe the role of a CIO today?

A CIO today is much more business-directed, than strictly technician. We are a liaison between the business, executive leadership and the technical people who make it run. As a leader in IT, we’re expected to show vision, adherence to the overall plan and translation between all the parties. Today I probably spend three-fourth of my time working with our internal business partners, executive leadership and outside agencies.

How can the CIOs make their business counterparts think differently about the importance of IT?

Fortunately or unfortunately, I have found that by reminding my counterparts of past failures or slippages it helps to keep IT at the table. As an example, we do a lot of work with universities who perform important research for us. In the past we have left it to the universities to actually create production systems that sometimes reside outside our infrastructure. We’ve provided standards, but it’s not the same as creating an enterprise application that integrates. Reminding the business areas to keep IT at the table, we are not only allowing the research and prototyping to continue with the universities but also getting our involvement to actually procure production-level software that will fully integrate and deliver the results of the research.

"We are also advancing use of unmanned aerial devices for traffic incident assistance and transportation system asset inspections"

As the technology sphere evolves with each passing day, what are some of the latest trends that are gripping your mind?

Everything is revolving around connected and autonomous vehicles (CV/AV), customer-facing mobile applications, data governance and analytics, and unmanned aerial. Ohio is engaged in all these areas and IT has a seat at the table.

Which growing or future technology innovation are you personally excited about?

As a government agency we have spent a lot of time and effort reducing footprint and upgrading legacy systems. As we complete those endeavors, the Ohio Department of Transportation is gearing up to support advanced transportation system technologies including AV/CV. These systems will be created and designed by the engineering side of the house, supported and implemented with IT. The amount of data that will need to be moved and analyzed is staggering, terabytes per vehicle per day. Hybrid architectures of on-premise, cloud and point-of-capture will need to deliver unprecedented uptime, availability and speed. Aviation has built these types of systems for aircraft but the number of passenger cars and trucks dwarfs the number of planes.

How can the evolving technologies help Ohio Department of Transportation overcome the challenges?

Improved data analytics are going to help Ohio’s transportation systems and our citizens. There are more tools in our toolbox, analytics will help us determine which ones to use and when. The partnerships with private business will accelerate as we implement the public-side of the technologies to benefit citizens along with the private technology sector. As proposed by Governor Kasich, Ohio’s upcoming budget includes initiatives that help fund the Automotive Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio; variable speed limits that can improve traffic flow during rush hour; and pilot programs for allowing traffic to utilize highway shoulders when congested. ODOT is working with partners from multiple universities in Ohio to accelerate advanced transportation systems. We are also advancing use of unmanned aerial devices for traffic incident assistance and transportation system asset inspections.

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