NC companies hope technology will smooth workers’ commutes


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – At Thursday’s annual meeting of the Regional Transportation Alliance your commute was the main topic.

“Trying to get from point A to point B to work, shipping different goods, all the things that make our community work well. If transportation fails as we grow, then our community’s not going to be as successful as we need it to be,” said Joe Milazzo II, Executive Director of the Regional Transportation Alliance Business Coalition.

Milazzo wants every worker in the Triangle to have a good commute, because it’s good for business. Other executives agree.

“The quality of the transportation in an urban area is a huge differentiator in terms of attracting jobs and people to move into the region,” said Jack Klecha, Senior Manager of Cisco Systems Security and Trust Organization.

At the 15th annual meeting of the RTA, keynote speakers presented ways that technology can make that commute better, starting with piggy-backing off Wake County’s new transportation plan.

“I can really envision seeing circulator systems in neighborhoods bringing them to a high capacity, reliable BRT, or bus rapid transit service,” said Matthew Lesh, CCO of Meridian Autonomous.

A circulator system would be a self-driving shuttle like Olli, the product of collaboration among Local Motors, IBM and Meridian. It’s already in production and will soon be in use in parts of the country.

“Wherever you have the challenge of getting people from a parking garage to the location they want to go, or circulation within a campus, is where I think we’re going to see the promise early on,” said Lesh.

The shuttle would take care of the first and last mile of some commutes. For the rest of the way, companies like Cisco are working on data gathering systems.

“From a commuter and a consumer point of view it’s really important too because yeah, it gives us real-time insights into exactly where the problem areas are and to reroute and do things like that,” said Klecha.

As far as basic infrastructure, RTA is pushing for the completion of the 540 loop.

“Our top strategic priority is in southern Wake County completing 540 between where it ends right now in Holly Springs to I-40. That’s the most important project we’re focused on right now,” said Milazzo.

Klecha also warned of ways that technology in transportation can go wrong, mainly through hacking attacks. He says Cisco is also working on security as new technology is being implemented.

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