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Jim Hanson

North America

Jim Hanson, PE, PTOE, is director of intelligent mobility for Atkins in North America. He has more than 20 years of experience in traffic engineering and shares the firm’s global best practices in intelligent mobility and advances in technology with clients he assists throughout the United States. Jim has worked with a variety of local, state and federal agencies around Colorado, the United States and internationally and is well versed on the differing needs of various clients, stakeholders, and projects. He uses his broad range of experience to develop innovative and effective project solutions. Prior to joining Atkins, Mr. Hanson was a municipal traffic engineer in California and Colorado.

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As professional engineers, we have a responsibility to help meet this challenge by assisting clients and communities in designing, managing, and operating the roadways of tomorrow, today. That means helping agencies make a monumental shift from relying only on hard capital assets to improve safety and mobility to embracing innovation and technology.

The traditional transportation department charge to effectively build, maintain, and operate highways and their associated infrastructure remains unchanged. But it should be augmented by the integration of innovation and technology solutions for reducing deadly accidents, alleviating traffic delays, and communicating road conditions to travelers.

In many states, intelligent transportation systems are already supporting traffic signals, lane controls, variable message signs, and video monitoring of traffic and highways. Through planned improvements in analytics and integration, existing systems can be enhanced and contribute to more efficient roadway operations. This innovation will help increase the level of critical information that can be disseminated to roadway users, and help manage and operate transportation systems more effectively.

The simple reality is that we cannot build our way out of congestion. The need for a transformation in transportation is revving up in states across the country, and Colorado is among them. Colorado Department of Transportation has taken a bold step to effect change and transform its aging transportation system by embracing technology. Their goal is to be one of the most technologically advanced transportation systems in the nation.

In launching the RoadX Program, CDOT made a commitment to aggressive implementation of new transportation technology within the next 10 years. In support of their aggressive timetable, CDOT took a unique approach to selecting consultants to help advise and lead idea generation. Instead of selecting a single consultant, CDOT selected three (Atkins being one), and they share equal responsibility of solidifying partnerships and entrepreneurial relationships. CDOT’s approach is paying off, with leaders from public organizations and private industry all working together, bringing the brightest innovators to the table from Colorado, across the nation, and around the world.

CDOT is definitely sending a signal that the state means business as it pledges to improve safety for all who use its roadways. They launched a RoadX Bicycle and Pedestrian Challenge that demonstrates the kind of out-of-thebox thinking that takes public involvement to another level. The challenge will award a total of $500,000 to innovators who have the best ideas to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians in Colorado. And in an effort to encourage the best and brightest ideas, CDOT held a networking event with its leadership, industry partners, and innovators to facilitate connections between the individuals, businesses, and agencies that are considering submitting ideas. This emphasis on collaboration at every turn is a differentiator for CDOT, and it is also an approach other transportation agencies can emulate to encourage stakeholder engagement.

Further integration of technology and transportation is simply inevitable. Helping to transform and deliver more efficient, agile, and flexible transportation systems to communities should drive us to take action. This is the type of opportunity to make a difference that led many of us to pursue the engineering profession in the first place.

This article was originally published in the March/April edition of PE Magazine.

North America,

The first-of-a-kind event was held in conjunction with the CES Conference, an annual consumer electronics and technology tradeshow in Las Vegas. In the spirit of the summit theme, taken from an Elvis Presley song, “A Little Less Conversation,” we helped Nevada do more than talk about intelligent mobility, or iM—they illustrated with real-world examples of advancements in the iM space.

I’m often asked, “So, what is intelligent mobility?”

It may mean different things to different clients depending where they are in their iM journey. Events like the GO-NV Summit helped clarify some aspects of iM for attendees. The bigger goal of GO-NV was to take the conversation toward action to start deploying solutions. 

Our approach to iM is a global one—each of our regions is working with clients, technologists, developers and solutions providers to address the growing scope of iM needs world-wide. Our definition is simple: Intelligent mobility is an end-user and outcome-focused approach to connecting people, places and services—reimagining infrastructure across all transport modes, enabled by data, technology and innovative ideas. We describe our iM work in four areas: the power to transform lives; progress and change; catalyst for collaboration, and implementation at its heart.

The Power to Transform Lives
Clearly, iM has the potential to enable people who struggle with finding safe, convenient, affordable travel options across all modes of transportation. We’re working with state and local governments across the country, facilitating innovative visioning and roadmap development sessions to address the rapidly evolving needs around iM.

The GO-NV Summit brought to life the four principles of our iM approach. The industry executives who spoke at the event provided attendees with an understanding of what technology and transportation companies, and their partners, are doing to advance mobility, the best practices for building smart and connected communities, and what is still needed for connected and autonomous vehicles, or CAVs, to become a viable mode of transportation for the general public. The speakers focused on how mobility will be achieved, building things locally in Nevada, using drone technology, and using Nevada as a testbed for CAV and other technologies.

Automation will help those who don’t have access achieve greater mobility, enabling them to do much more if they choose to do so.

It will also improve the safety of our transportation systems, resulting in less accidents, injury and death, which has spurred a lot of interest and passion around the topic. Who wouldn’t want safer, less congested roadways and safer, more reliable, convenient public transportation systems? 

Progress and Change
It’s difficult to think of another area with the same level of enthusiasm and excitement as iM. The developments and deployments involving iM seem to be gaining momentum daily. The collaboration of engineering companies with software developers and other nontraditional partners has resulted in rapid transformation in terms of driverless vehicles, safety features, and have included all aspects of the journey, from tolling to intelligent roadways. 

Las Vegas’ Economic Development Group is positioning for this change as a way to grow and advance. As one of the U.S.’s most popular tourist destinations, it’s in Las Vegas’s best interest to assure visitors their trip will be hassle-free and safe. The developments around iM will do just that—they will make visitors much more mobile (more transportation options and end-to-end journey planning), less stressed (removing cars from roadways), and safer (CAVs, intelligent systems to manage traffic). 

Catalyst for Collaboration
We can best describe our role in iM as innovation facilitators. We excel at bringing a variety of stakeholders together around an issue, facilitating discussion, bringing solutions and solution providers forward, and turning ideas into actionable outcomes. It’s very much a team effort—our team of technologists and experts in the intelligent mobility field brings together developers, software engineers, government agencies and planners, among others, to develop and deploy workable iM solutions.

Intelligent mobility has created collaboration among data specialists, software developers, federal and state and local agencies, entrepreneurs, vehicle manufacturers, and technology and engineering companies like ours. Interoperability of systems, getting systems to “talk” to each other and work seamlessly, has mandated collaboration. Nevada Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada’s Freeway & Arterial System of Transportation, or FAST, is a perfect example of this—a truly integrated intelligent transportation system (ITS) organization, one of the first in the country. 

Implementation at Its Heart
Being able to develop solutions and implement them safely and seamlessly is our overall goal in iM. The City of Las Vegas and Clark County have implemented leave in place—not a demo or a pilot project, but early deployments that can be adjusted while deployed. Through collaboration, using techniques like visioning and ideation, we’re helping clients develop a roadmap for iM. Las Vegas took one step closer in January as NAVYA and Keolis, in partnership with the City of Las Vegas, launched the first autonomous electric shuttle ever to be deployed on a public roadway in the United States.

During this GO-NV Summit, we helped Las Vegas become one of the only locations in the world to host interoperable connected vehicles accessing the same roadside units (RSU). In the spirit of collaboration, several manufacturers shared access to RSUs to demonstrate CAV applications during CES. The Summit's speakers focused on the current projects making advanced mobility a reality today, including specific accomplishments and successful public-private partnerships.

Cleary iM momentum is building. Just one week later, we showcased our experience during an interview with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada for an investment study to explore combining various modes of transportation—innovation/tech. Opportunities exist in Colorado with CDOT’s RoadX program, the Miami-Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization in Florida for its CAVs program, and others across the US.

As we see conversation become reality in the iM space, we also recognize that there is still much to be done—cybersecurity advancements, assessing and planning for energy needs, communications systems, and flawless logistics are all areas that are conversation topics with action most likely not far behind. 

To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub

North America,