Consider that an investment of $1.2 billion to deploy and operate real-time traffic information programs in all 50 states and the nation’s largest 50 cities would not only create new jobs and spur economic growth, but would also generate more than $30 billion in safety, mobility, and environmental benefits to the public, according to a newly-released GAO study.

The future of ITS and its positive impact on our national economy are significant.  The U.S. DOT projects that the field of ITS could create almost 600,000 new jobs over the next 20 years.  With a federal commitment to ITS deployment, these figures could be significantly higher.  In the United Kingdom, an investment of 15 billion British pounds (approximately $25 billion) in information and communications technology (ITS, smart grid and broadband) is estimated to create or retain 700,000 jobs, of which 360,000 are small business jobs.

Several other segments of the economy will also benefit from federal investments in ITS.  Researchers from the London School of Economics and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation have found that investment in ITS creates a ‘network effect’ throughout the economy and directly benefits economic growth by stimulating high-tech job creation across multiple sectors, including green jobs, high-tech, automotive, information technology, consumer electronics, and related industries; and provides a foundation for long-term benefits, including government cost savings, economy-wide productivity, and an improved quality of life.

It’s also important to recognize the international commitment to ITS is growing among other leading industrialized nations.  China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Germany, Great Britain, and other nations today view their ITS industry as a key industrial base, and one capable of generating considerable economic growth.

With unemployment rates reaching alarming levels and traffic congestion stifling our economy and quality of life, it’s time for the U.S. to make a commitment to ITS.  ITS will play a major role in helping American workers retain existing jobs while providing new jobs for the unemployed.  It will also provide lasting benefits by increasing safety, reducing congestion and emissions, improving system performance and creating more livable, sustainable communities.

See Belcher’s letter to the Congressional leaders.

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) represents several hundred member organizations including public agencies, private industry leaders, and academic institutions involved in the research, development, and deployment of intelligent transportation systems that improve safety, increase mobility, and sustain the environment.