Smart Communities can strengthen America's economy


Many of the information and communications technologies that can be utilized in ITS systems already exist: “connected” vehicles that avoid crashes; stress-sensing bridges; active traffic management to reduce congestion; electronic tolling systems to avoid waiting at toll booths; and real-time traffic, transit and parking information for commuters.  

By integrating these technologies into demonstration programs in up to six communities across the country, we can create model deployment sites for large-scale installation and operation projects. These “Smart Communities” would serve as real-world test models for comprehensive ITS solutions to traffic management. Each Smart Community would be required to establish clear performance objectives, based upon advanced transportation management systems for reducing traffic-related crashes and congestion. They would also work to optimize system performance and connectivity across all modes of transportation.

The potential benefits are tangible and significant: fewer collisions and increased driver and pedestrian safety; better operational performance of transportation networks; cleaner air and water; streamlined traffic flow and improved access to multimodal transportation alternatives; faster incident and emergency response times; and enhanced personal mobility and convenience.  

From a purely economic standpoint, Smart Communities are fiscally responsible, getting more bang for the taxpayer’s buck with existing funds at a time when budgets are tight. And from a quality of life standpoint, Smart Communities mean we can all spend less time in traffic and more time at home with our families. It’s estimated that more than 4.8 billion hours are wasted sitting in traffic in metropolitan communities alone.

Given the benefits, it is small wonder that our bill has already received endorsements from broad range of transportation, business and environmental leaders, including private sector employers such as AT&T, Ford, General Motors, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, Verizon -- and the list continues to grow.

These diverse groups know what should be apparent to everyone: if we are going to compete in the new, global economy, we cannot just grow bigger. We must grow smarter.

Removing barriers and increasing efficiency through 21st Century technologies is an initiative from which all motorists and pedestrians can all benefit. It’s a win for taxpayers, it’s a win for businesses, and it’s a win for the environment. 

Rep. Mike Rogers is a Republican representing Michigan’s Eighth Congressional District. Democrat Russ Carnahan represents Missouri’s Third Congressional District.