Consider ‘technology’ and ‘innovation’ when talking transportation

Edelman Insight’s 2013 Trust Barometer was released this week. It is an interesting look at how people all over the world trust their government and businesses.

Here are a couple of nuggets:

  • The most trusted industry is technology.
  • The most trusted spokespersons are technical, academic experts.

This matches nicely some focus group research conducted a few years ago that asked citizens in different parts of the United States what it would take for those citizens to want to support increased funding. The answer? Technology, innovation, renewal.

Sure, I’m tying together examples of very different research with very different research samples. But the point, I think, is worth considering.

If you want to move people toward support for your transportation organization, focus on the technology, renewal and innovation that you already have on hand. And, get a technical expert or a person in the field to be your spokesperson.

It might seem simple, but that is the kind of simple strategy that can turn heads.



Author: Lloyd Brown

I am the director of communications for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. I enjoy running marathons and triathlons, playing guitar and spending time with family. My professional interest is in how social media and new technology shapes the communication relationship between government and the general public. I have a Master’s degree in Communications and Leadership from Gonzaga University in Spokane and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Washington State University.

8 thoughts on “Consider ‘technology’ and ‘innovation’ when talking transportation”

  1. Great points, Lloyd. When Mobility Lab talks about cool technology developments we’re working on (compared to transportation links to other topics such as the environment, health, economic development, etc.), they receive the most interest on our website by far. Our content about the Side-By-Side Google Map 4-Mode Router (developed by our contributor, Michael Schade) is a case in point. It is breaking all kinds of web-analytic records on our website, regarding pageviews.

    People seem to “trust” the technology and, in fact, embrace it wildly.

    1. In wonder if people “trust” technology so much because they are surrounded by it? After all, we see people travel to the moon and back and we carry super computers in the form of cell phones in our pockets.

  2. I so agree about using an expert to be the spokesman on technical issues. A bridge engineer talking about steel trusses, fracture critical and structurally deficient is so earnest and so believeable and, yes, sometimes so impossible to understand. But always a high level of credibility.

    1. Steve, you’re right.

      Bill Nye, the Science guy, is a trained engineer. And, it is hard to believe there is anyone out there who has made science and engineering more cool for kids than that guy. So, getting the experts in front of the camera is a solid strategy.

      1. I accept the findings you mention but I don’t think they go far enough. There is much more that technology could to enhance safety, efficiancy and sustainability of transportation, but this will require a multidisciplinary approach that is managed using the well-proven discipline of systems engineering.

        The domain that interests me most right now is road traffic safety, where there many initiatives and technologies bieng applied but always in isolation. Take driverless cars for example – no consideration of cooperative intelligent transportations systems [C-ITS].

        I believe that a systems engineering approach to riad safety could reduce road deaths by an aorder of magnitude (90% reduction) by compiling the full list of requirements, conducting analysis to identify a;ll the road transport options that are technically feasibleand then conducting trade-studies to identify those with best performance for safety, efficiency and sustainability.

        The scope of the program should include the road environment including radio-frequency environment; vehicle design including all of the onboard information and communications technology [ICT] systems; ICT service providers of all kinds, and lastly human-systems integration including driver distraction. The end result may be to select driverless cars as being a much safer option if properly integrated with people, other vehicles and their environment.

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