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Volpe Looks Forward…and Toward Its Next Director

Sunday, January 10, 2016

By Anne Aylward, Volpe Deputy Director for Research and Technology and Acting Director of Air Traffic Systems and Operations

In a new year, people often resolve to take action to better themselves: learning a new language, or parking a few blocks away from work to get in a little extra exercise.

At Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center, we are taking action on six emerging issues for the new year. These six issues will be priorities for our staff of technical researchers, engineers, economists, statistical and policy analysts, community planners, and communications professionals as they work to improve mobility across all transportation modes.

Volpe’s 2016 emerging issues in transportation: advanced automation and emerging technologies; breakthroughs in safety; data analytics, visualization, and real-time decision making; energy and sustainability; system resiliency; and on-demand mobility, smart cities, and livable communities.

The first issue is advanced automation and emerging technologies. One example of Volpe’s involvement in this exciting area is our NextGen Systems Development Program Office, which supports the Federal Aviation Administration’s transformative efforts to modernize America’s airspace. Our NextGen team is just one of many that will continue to support our partners in transportation as they refine the policy, regulatory, and governance frameworks needed to keep pace with advances, and to ensure public safety and commercial viability.

Volpe teams are also tackling breakthroughs in safety. Advances in technology, engineering, and human-factors research are providing new insights into and solutions to long-term, persistent problems that can dramatically reduce transportation fatalities and injuries.

Next is data analytics, visualization, and real-time decision making. By coupling the latest data tools with state-of-the-art hardware, we think there is a chance for a new paradigm in data-driven decision making for transportation, including dynamic, real-time decision making.

Transportation energy and sustainability is another important issue. The growing threats of climate change, shifting fuel markets, and other environmental concerns are going to require innovative transportation plans and policies; Volpe teams advance these efforts through research, analysis, and strategic planning.

An image of a cityscape. One side has a dark sky and cracked earth and the other has blue sky and green grass.We are also continuing our work on transportation system resiliency. While transportation systems face significant threats from natural disasters, our critical infrastructure is also increasingly confronting technical failures and malicious attacks. There is a growing need for expertise in planning for, responding to, and managing transportation incidents across modes and disciplines, as well as realizing systems that are secure and trusted.

And, we are furthering our work in on-demand mobility, smart cities, and livable communities. With travel preferences constantly changing, new transportation options are emerging that use innovative service delivery models for transporting people and freight.

With our focus on these six priorities, it is my privilege to kick off the new year at Volpe alongside our engaged and enthusiastic staff. You can keep up with what we do and share your visions for transportation in 2016 via Twitter and LinkedIn.

National Director Search

I am also pleased to announce that we are conducting a national search for the next Volpe director. With the challenges described above in mind, we welcome all qualified applicants to apply for the director position by Friday, February 19.

All of us at Volpe look forward to achieving new heights this year and to welcoming our new director. As always, our mission remains to advance transportation innovation for the public good.

Volpe will take action on six emerging issues in 2016:

A photo of a road with 2016 painted on it and an arrow pointing towards the horizon.
  1. Advanced automation and emerging technologies
  2. Breakthroughs in safety
  3. Data analytics, visualization, and real-time decision making
  4. Transportation energy and sustainability
  5. Transportation system resiliency
  6. On-demand mobility, smart cities, and livable communities