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January 11, 2011


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I think that the initiative isn’t only about traffic alerts to commuters; it is more about an extension of a city-wide/regional traffic management system. Smarter Traveler is designed, I understand, to interface with a city-scale traffic management system. It’s as much about helping transport managers deal with multi-modal congestion, as it is about recommending alternate ways to work during rush hour.

The PPP question is a big topic and something I’m going to write about in the near future. But, a big barrier centers on trust: Government trusting business to advance the governance mandate; business trusting government to let it do them do their jobs without stifling oversight. Modern business models and technology are better able to preserve trust than older models, and outsourcing has validated PPPs to some extent. Government is motivated to look for help in today’s atmosphere of austerity, and will enter into PPPs, as long as they can trust the private entity to whom they will transfer some measure of authority.

Are navigation apps that show real-time traffic conditions on mobile phones or GPS devices removing the need for initiatives like this? I already have a free map/traffic app showing congestion on my Android.

If not, what are the biggest barriers to developing such public-private partnerships? The lack of regional coordination of transportation in the U.S.? The sluggish and politically-charged government procurement process?

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