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Risks Related to Emerging and Disruptive Transportation Technologies: A Guide (2024)

Chapter: Chapter 8 - Moving Forward Inside State DOTs and MPOs

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Page 116
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Moving Forward Inside State DOTs and MPOs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Risks Related to Emerging and Disruptive Transportation Technologies: A Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27842.
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Page 116
Page 117
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Moving Forward Inside State DOTs and MPOs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Risks Related to Emerging and Disruptive Transportation Technologies: A Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27842.
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Page 117

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116 Moving Forward Inside State DOTs and MPOs Innovative technologies in transportation systems provide new means to achieve core goals. They could enhance mobility and access, create safer travel, provide more efficient and smarter solutions to address transportation demand and reach more people with the potential for greater equity. Nevertheless, novel technology often is accompanied by unintended consequences that, if not analyzed and managed, pose a risk to state DOTs’ and MPOs’ goals. This report provides a framework to support agencies in managing the associated risks and creating readiness for current and future technological innovations. Transportation agencies need to manage sources of risk from emerging and disruptive technologies and the challenges that accompany them. Modal forms and their distribution are changing from ICE-powered vehicles to EVs of various types, from private ownership to shared vehicles, from current transit options to the prospect of roads filled with CAVs and on through AAM technologies that will leave the roads entirely. Transformations in society, economy, and other underlying systems are also changing rapidly. Agencies will be hard-pressed to be suffi- ciently foresightful to anticipate all the changes and sources of risk to come. Yet, they will need to become adept in operating under future circumstances to be successful. Change will not come as a succession of technological plateaus with each in turn affording the time necessary to learn the new rules of thumb before the next wave of change. Rather, the dynamics of change will be continuous. Among the most fruitful activities for this project were the peer exchanges held with trans- portation agency professionals, technology experts, and members of stakeholder communities (Chapter 1 and Appendix C). There was general recognition in these meetings of the profound changes already occurring and the promise of more to come. The prospects for transportation are exciting but also unsettling for transportation agency planning and operations. Participants saw many needs for fundamental change in transportation agency concepts, approaches, and activities if they are to continue to meet the range of public goals. A risk register is an effective tool for categorizing and prioritizing sources of risk and their possible consequences and cataloging alternative means for reducing vulnerabilities and expo- sures or mitigating consequences. Uncertainty is not a failure of due diligence; it is an inherent aspect of the technology innovation and adoption enterprise. AAM may be on the horizon, but it is hard to determine when and to what extent they will be deployed, the types of aircraft that will be deployed, and the use cases AAM will serve. There is risk in cataloging risk when trends are still fluid; naming sources of risk can easily be conflated with retaining a considerable level of control. Such a catalog could reinforce an agency attitude toward risk that is ill-suited to the constantly transforming dynamics. This could lead to an illusory and perhaps even unconscious tendency to fit today’s needs into the forms of the past and make agencies less wary of surprise and less resilient to change. C H A P T E R   8

Moving Forward Inside State DOTs and MPOs 117   The research attempts to take the familiar forms of the risk register and risk matrix and trans- form them into a tool that responds to change and subsequent updates of information so that agencies can fulfill specific objectives in the presence of accelerating disruptive technology and the transformation of modal forms and shares. The report intends to convey that the lodestone for agencies must be to achieve a risk management posture that will allow them to be both foresightful and resilient. The intention was to go beyond providing a snapshot compendium to providing agency risk managers with tools for achieving that organizational resilience and building into their plans greater robustness to the different paths the future might take. Appendix C provides a fundamental discussion of the nature and sources of risk, its decom- position into hazards, likelihoods, exposure, vulnerability, and consequences. It discusses how risk management is complicated by uncertainty and the presence of competing assumptions. It then presents methodological solutions emerging from this project’s research for how to encompass the dynamics of change, the varying circumstances of the many different locations in which agencies operate, and the different potential embodiments of emerging mobility tech- nologies within the framework of the traditional risk register. These solutions transform the risk register into something better suited to the risk management problem agencies increasingly face. The method outlined in that discussion provides the occasion and the framework for agencies to address the problem of risk in a manner that accounts for their local situation and supports an organization-wide approach to risk management. Chapters 3 through 6 present the risk register from this research effort. The register is a snapshot of current understanding and a template on which to build. It contains fundamental differences from a traditional risk register. This register is intended to be tailored to individual agency needs and be capable of reflecting changes in information. The risk register presented in these chapters should be read as part of an overall posture for risk management that includes the concepts offered in Chapter 7. That chapter’s high-level policy primers are aimed at presenting broader, high-level risk mitigation strategies and policies sufficient for implementation in a technology-agnostic manner across agency goals. The policy primers constitute actionable avenues for enhancing agency agility. They contain key elements of effective mitigation of particular sources of risk to achieve a resilient organization—one that takes a comprehensive approach to risk management rather than compartmentalize it within a few select offices and among a dedicated staff. The methods discussed are intended to support agency risk management when long-held rules of thumb no longer appear to apply and the new ones remain far from clear. The research team drew on the experience of novel analytical decision-support methods being applied in transportation but also on the application of leading-edge tools for decision-making under uncertainty being applied in nontransportation agencies involved in other aspects of public policy such as water or energy planning. The sum of the components is intended to provide value to DOTs and MPOs through a new framework to strengthen agency resilience to emerging technologies. While there are volumes written on new mobility, many cited in this report, the combination of these components offers a holistic approach for agencies to proactively manage existing and new emerging technologies. All may contribute to a resilient posture toward the management of emerging risk.

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Emerging technologies present many potential challenges to state departments of transportation (DOTs) and other agencies that own and manage the existing infrastructure. Significant uncertainty exists about which changes are most likely to occur and where the largest impacts could be, hampering an effective national alignment in policy and approach.

NCHRP Research Report 1090: Risks Related to Emerging and Disruptive Transportation Technologies: A Guide, from TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program, presents a register of risks to state and local transportation agencies and their constituents posed by four emerging technologies: electric vehicles (EVs), connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs), mobility on demand/mobility as a service (MOD/MaaS), and advanced air mobility (AAM).

Supplemental to the report are a PowerPoint presentation describing the research and an implementation plan.

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