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What could you dream of doing if all of the objects in your life were connected to the internet? 

I could imagine walking out of DOT HQ at the end of the day and feeling my phone buzz with a notification from my refrigerator.  It warns me of a serious lack of ice cream in the freezer but, fortunately, also informs me my favorite brand of mint chocolate chip is on sale at the grocery store on the corner.  Crisis averted.  Sensing that I am on the move, the air conditioner in my apartment springs to life to make sure the place is comfortable when I arrive.  A replacement light bulb automatically ordered by my ceiling fixture when one burned out is there when I return and a task to replace it has been added to my to-do list…

Welcome to the future, courtesy of the Internet of Things (IoT). 

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Cross-posted from

America’s capacity for creativity, innovation, and invention is the envy of the world. Over the past seven years, the Obama Administration has strengthened our foundation for innovation through investments and reforms to drive technological breakthroughs that will power the American economy and inspire the world for generations to come. Today, we’re building on that track record by finalizing new ground rules to govern the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems, more commonly known as “drones.” These rules will open up the National Airspace System to a major new technology and create new jobs while ensuring that we protect privacy and safety.

Taking a step back, it’s no secret that technology has been rapidly changing the world, and that comes with both opportunities and challenges. But this Administration has been forward-looking, working to shape and prepare for technological breakthroughs, so we can harness technology for the benefit of all Americans. For example, we have supported research and development for next-generation technologies across an array of disciplines and applications, like healthcare, clean energy, and national security.

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Early this month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx joined U.S. Housing And Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and U.S. Education Secretary John King in announcing plans for stronger collaboration among federal agencies to promote opportunity and diversity in communities across the country.  In a joint letter, they also called on “local education, transportation and housing leaders to work together on issues at the intersection of our respective mission in helping to guarantee full access of opportunity.”

Additionally, Department of Transportation officials participated in a tri-agency convening at the Department of Education to discuss strategies for collaborating around issues of opportunity. The “Joint Listening Session” featured transportation, housing, and education leaders and advocates who together explored approaches and tactics for creating well-connected transportation networks, affordable housing, and high-quality educational opportunities.


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Heads up – motorcycles are everywhere! Today marks the annual Ride to Work Day – in 2000, the non-profit organization, Ride to Work, was formed to help organize and promote routine use of motorcycles and scooters for transportation. In 2008, the third Monday in June was adopted to climatically better accommodate riders world-wide, and to give more riders an opportunity to participate. And every year as the weather heats up across the U.S., we are urged through various safety campaigns to be extra vigilant for riders.

But what if technology could help us all be safer as we share the roads with two, four or more-wheeled vehicles? What if there was a way for motorcycle riders to know of dangers ahead of time, potentially avoiding crashes in the first place? 

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Earlier today, I was on hand to help state and local officials in Los Angeles County open the $88.7 million Nogales Street Grade Separation Project which will improve safety, reduce noise and emissions, and enhance freight movement throughout southern California. The project is central to the $4.6 billion Alameda Corridor East (ACE) Trade Corridor Improvement Plan in Southern California, which is using $125 million in federal funds, to connect the nation’s rail network to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The project, which relied on $22 million in federal funding, separates the two major rail lines, BNSF and Union Pacific, from local highways in the City of Industry, a suburb of Los Angeles.

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Like millions of other Americans, I ride public transportation to work. As both a passenger and transportation safety professional, when I walk past the station manager, security personnel, and other transit workers each morning, I see the necessary safety measures in place to protect passengers. Many transit workers, however, have a very different experience.

These workers see how fare disputes can quickly escalate to a physical assault. They know first-hand how an agitated passenger instigates an altercation with a transit worker. They hear the tenseness in a customer’s voice as a complaint escalates into a verbal tirade that could potentially turn violent.

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Are you an entrepreneur who lives and breathes innovation?  Do you have the next big idea that will change the way we move people and goods across the country?  Or have you discovered the best way to use technology to more effectively manage traffic and improve our commutes to the office?  Well, so do the competitors in ITS America’s “The Intelligent Pitch.”  

All week ITS America 2016 San Jose has brought together the best of transportation, tech, innovation, the public and private sectors, research and academia. Today, the best and brightest innovators gathered for “The Intelligent Pitch,” transportation's very own version of Shark Tank. 

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When I visit Rhode Island, one of the first things I notice its extensive water resources available for tourism, sports and commerce not to mention the ability to move people from one place to another.  Next, I think about the  dynamic men and women working on and near the water in the maritime industries and businesses including ship construction and repair that support the State’s long-term economic prosperity.  Boasting over 400 miles of coastline, it’s easy to see why maritime is a central part of the “Ocean State’s” heritage as well as the key to its economic future. 

I saw this first hand last week when I joined Senator Jack Reed and Governor Gina Raimondo, along with other state and local officials, to christen the Port of Providence’s latest asset, a new crane barge christened the SANDY C.   Funded, in part, by a $10.5 million Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant, the SANDY C, along with two high performance mobile cranes delivered in 2013, are literally transforming the port into a modern marine cargo center. 

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At a time of growing demand and aging infrastructure, one of the transportation industry’s greatest challenge has nothing to do with concrete and steel. It's: how can we attract, educate, and retain a workforce that has both the skills and the numbers to keep our nation moving? Unless we work together to address the looming shortage of workers, buses are going to be behind schedule; rail systems will see delays; and slowed maintenance will mean that vehicles will have more breakdowns and higher operating costs.

The transportation industry – and transit in particular – is facing a “demographic cliff,” with record retirements and too few ready to take their place.

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You don’t need a time traveling DeLorean to catch glimpses of the future of transportation in San Jose this week.  ITS America – The Intelligent Transportation Society of America – has come to town, bringing with it all manner of amazing technology.  Streetlights that recognize pedestrians and send warning messages to approaching cars. Traffic signals that apply data analytics to learn patterns of congestion and automatically adapt timing to improve flow.  Kiosks containing laser scanners that can count cars and measure speeds across multiple lanes of traffic.  The exhibit hall is basically a candy store for transportation technology.

USDOT is right in the middle of all of this.

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