When Should Transit Steer Clear of Technology?

When Should Transit Steer Clear of Technology?
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When Should Transit Steer Clear of Technology?
By Lesley Goldberg, Communications Leader

While COVID-19 has stress tested the resiliency of public transportation networks, some experts believe that the pandemic will accelerate — rather than impede — the role of technology in supporting transit and other public infrastructure. But are all innovations created equal? When should public agencies embrace new technological tools — and when should they steer clear?

To answer that question, agencies should shift their focus away from the proposed technologies themselves, and instead look inward. Aligning on organizational mission and vision, setting tangible success outcomes, establishing the input of each department in achieving these outcomes — these actions are critical preparation before adopting any new technology.

Before building a house, you’ve got to have a blueprint.

And once those elements are established, public agencies should approach new technologies with the following questions in mind:

New digital tools — particularly those designed to collect real-time data — are poised to make a huge positive impact on public transportation worldwide. But before joining in the technology gold rush, agencies should pause to align on what outcomes they’re trying to achieve — and whether alluring new technologies are offering clearer focus on those outcomes or threatening to knock them off course.