Who We Are
Founded in 1992 as an educational and information-sharing group, ITS Florida was the first formal ITS state chapter organization, and we affiliated with ITS America in April 1994. ITS Florida was named the Best ITS America State Chapter for 2004 and again in 2011!
ITS Florida is one of the leading advocates for the deployment of technologies that improve the safety, security and efficiency of the nation’s surface transportation system. Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) encompass a broad range of wireless and wire line communications, information processing, advanced computing, and electronics technologies. When integrated into the nation’s roadways, vehicles, and public transit systems, these technologies can help reduce congestion, enhance mobility options, and help save lives. Our members include private corporations, public agencies, and academic institutions involved in the research, development and deployment of ITS technologies.
What We Do
The purpose of ITS Florida is to serve as a mechanism to facilitate communication and coordination among our members; ITS America; and other governmental, academic and private institutions, and associations. The overall goal is to provide the Florida government, academic agencies, and the private sector with improved access to advanced transportation technology to meet the demands placed on highways, public transportation, and interfaces with air, rail, and sea-borne modes.
The primary methods of information exchanges are through our interactive website, committee meetings, our annual meeting, the bi-annual conference and expo (Transpo™), email updates, newsletters, and our outreach and training series-led by the ITS Florida Professional Capacity Building Program.
Membership in ITS Florida is organizational, that is, via a governmental agency, company, university, local transportation agency, etc. Individuals who are not associated with a qualifying organization may become individual affiliates. ITS Florida is led by a Board of Directors.
ITS Florida goals and the committee(s) responsible for implementing the goals are grouped into “external goals” and “internal goals”.
- Advocate ITS on behalf of our members (Outreach).
- Provide the premier forum for ITS information exchange among public, private and academic sectors (Events).
- Partner with other transportation associations (Member Services/Events).
- Promote the development and expansion of ITS markets (Outreach).
- Provide members with information on current ITS markets and opportunities (Outreach).
- Develop and support guiding principles for the planning, implementation and operation of ITS (Advisory).
- Promode collaboration among ITS stakeholders (Outreach).
- Advise the FDOT ITS program on ITS issues (Advisory).
- Maintain a strong chapter structure (Management).
- Maintain financial stability in all accounts (Management).
- Expand membership (Member Services/Outreach).
- Provide services responsive to member needs (Member Services).
- Facilitate effective PCB/training (PCB).
- Engage membership in chapter activities (Member Services/Outreach).
- Show leadership in regional and national ITS activities (Events/Outreach).
|June 4, 1991||TheUniversityofFloridawrote to the FDOT proposing formation of an organization to promote and facilitate information exchange about IVHS.|
|Apr. 13, 1992||FDOT established its formal policy on IVHS concepts and technologies.|
|June 5, 1992||The above group met at FDOT and charged UF with drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for IVHS Florida, and USF with organizing the first “ IVHS Florida Forum.” Several drafts of the MOU were distributed in subsequent months.|
|Nov. 4, 1992||The first IVHS Florida Forum, with FSITE, was held inOrlando, FL. Dr. James Costantino, Executive Director of IVHS America, was keynote speaker.|
|Nov. 10, 1992||FDOT Secretary Ben Watts added the final signature to the IVHS FloridaMOU to officially form the organization.|
|Nov. 5, 1993||The second IVHS Florida Forum, with FSITE, was held in Boca Raton. The first general membership meeting of IVHS Florida was conducted here, too. It was basically an informational meeting to inform members/attendees of the organization and its potential relationship with IVHS America.|
|Apr. 18, 1994||The IVHS Florida Executive Committee (EC) met and based on more favorable membership requirements from IVHS America agreed to initiate affiliation of IVHS Florida with IVHS America.|
|Nov. 2, 1994||The third IVHS Florida Forum, with FSITE, was held inJacksonville, with Dr. James Costantino, Executive Director of (now) ITSAmerica, as keynote speaker.|
|March 1995||The organization was chartered as ITS Florida, a State Chapter of ITSAmerica.|
|August 16, 1995||ITS Florida was incorporated in the State ofFlorida.|
|Nov. 1, 1995||The fourth ITS Florida Forum, with FSITE, and first Exposition was held inTallahassee.|
|June 19-21, 1996||The fifth ITS Florida Forum, with FSITE, Making Intelligent Decisions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, was held inCocoaBeach.|
|Sept. 1996||The first ITS Florida Newsletter, Inside ITS Florida, was published.|
|Oct. 14-18, 1996||3rd ITS World Congress in Orlandoco-hosted by ITS Florida with many members (as well as FSITE members) serving as volunteers.|
|June 25-27, 1997||The sixth ITS Florida Forum, with FSITE, Integrating ITS into Project Planning, Design, and Operations, was held inClearwaterBeach.|
|June 17-19, 1998||The seventh ITS Florida Forum, with FSITE, Building Public-Private Partnerships to Solve Transportation Problems, was held inDaytona Beach. Dr. Christine Johnson, ITSA Executive Director, was the featured speaker.|
|Oct. 1998||The initial ITS Florida web site was created at CUTR/USF.|
|Dec. 1-4, 1998||ITS Florida members attended the NHI Train-the-Trainer course and formed the ITS Florida Team of Champions to promote ITS awareness and provide customized training inFlorida, inTampa.|
|April 18, 1999||First ITS Florida Showcase given by Dr. Jose-Luis Mesa, Miami-Dade MPO, at the 9th ITSA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.|
|June 9-11, 1999||The eighth ITS Florida Forum, with FSITE, Managing Your Transportation Investment with ITS, was held in Naples. John Collins, ITSA Executive Director, was the featured speaker and a mock MPO hearing was held. Grant Zammit, FHWA FL Division, was recognized as the first ITS FloridaProfessional of the Year.|
|Sept. 3, 1999||Senator Bob Graham visited ITS Florida at theUniversity ofFlorida, briefed by PresidentJim Reynold, Exec. Director Charles Wallace, and UF personnel.|
|Nov. 10, 1999||Jim Reynold, PB Farradyne, represented ITS Florida at the ribbon cutting ceremony of the FDOT District 5, Orlando TMC, which was a major ITS media event.|
|Dec. 16, 1999||ITS Florida’s first internally-developed training course (ITS Architecture Applications inFlorida, developed by Bob and Judy McQueen with FHWA FL Division financing) was piloted at USF/CUTR.|
|March 29-30,2000||Charles Wallaceand David Fiero represented ITS Florida at SunGuide Awareness Seminars inFt.Lauderdale andDeerfield Beach.|
|April 17-19, 2000||ITS Florida and five others sponsored Transpo2000: The Future Is Now! inOrlando.|
|May 2, 2000||Second ITS Florida Showcase given by Dr.Hal Worrall, OOCEA, at the 10th ITSA Annual Meeting inBoston.|
|May 23-25, 2000||Charles Wallace, Marc Bounds and David Fiero represented ITS Florida at SunGuide Awareness Seminars inTampa,Orlando, andDaytona Beach.|
|June 29-30, 2000||The ninth ITS Florida Forum, Transportation Systems Management and Operations: The Road Ahead, was held in Ft. Lauderdale. Dr. Hal Worrall, OOCEA, and Ken Morefield, FDOT, were the featured speakers. Mike Pietrzyk, USF, was recognized as the ITS Florida Professional of the Year.|
|June 4-7, 2001||ITS Florida and Miami-Dade County co-hosted the 11th ITSA Annual Meeting inMiami Beach. The theme was “ITS: Connecting theAmericas.”|
|June 5, 2001||ITS Florida held its tenth ITS Florida Forum in conjunction with the ITSA Annual Meeting in Miami Beach. Dr. Hal Worrall, OOCEA, was recognized as the ITS Florida Professional of the Year.|
|August 21, 2001||The FDOT designated ITS Florida as its official Advisory Committee, the first such designation in the nation.|
|January 9, 2002||ITS Americaannounced ITS Florida’s new active web site on their Access ITSAmerica.|
|March 26, 2002||The Board of Directors created the ITS Florida Professional Capacity Building Program, replacing the earlier Team of Champions.|
|April 29-May 2, 2002||ITS Florida, with the FDOT’s leadership, exhibited at the 12th ITSA Annual Meeting inLong Beach,California. The theme wasFlorida ITS is Hot! Hot! Hot!|
|December 9, 2002||ITS Florida, FSITE, FDOT, and FHWA Florida Division co-sponsored Transpo2002 in Orlando, “Safety Under the Sun: Technology for Safe and Secure Transportation.” This was the eleventh ITS Florida Forum and marked the Chapter’s 10th anniversary of service to the State of Florida and the nation. Chester Chandler, FDOT, was recognized as the ITS FloridaProfessional of the Year.|
|December 9, 2002||ITS Florida and ITSAmerica co-sponsored a Business Opportunity Forum at Transpo2002 inOrlando.|
|April 22, 2003||ITS Florida hosted the first ITS Legislative Awareness Day at the State Capitol inTallahassee.|
|May 19-22, 2003||ITS Florida and FDOT co-sponsored the Florida ITS Pavilion at the 13th ITSA Annual Meeting inMinneapolis. The exhibit theme was “Florida Is an ITS Powerhouse!”|
|August 11-13, 2003||ITS Florida hosted the 2003 National Rural ITS (NRITS) Conference at the Westin Innisbrook Resort inPalmHarbor.|
|August 12, 2003||FDOT Secretary of Transportation José Abreu provided the keynote address for the 2003 NRITS Conference.|
|October 15, 2003||The ITS Florida Board retained a part-time Executive Director beginning in January, 2004.|
|December 2, 2003||ITS Florida hosted the 2003 Annual Business Meeting where members elected officers, approved changes to the bylaws, and approved an increase in annual fees. Anne Brewer, FDOT District 5, was recognized as the ITS Florida Professional of the Year.|
|December 2, 2003||ITS Florida hosted its Member Appreciation Barbeque Event at the Deerfield Beach Resort.|
|December 4, 2003||ITS Florida recognized FTC Commissioner Robert Namoff as the ITS Champion of the Year 2003.|
|January 1, 2004||ITS Florida’s official address moved fromGainesville toDunedin.|
|March 17, 2004||ITS Florida hosted the second ITS Legislative Awareness Day at the State Capitol inTallahassee.|
|April 26-29, 2004||ITS Florida and Florida DOT co-hosted an exhibit at the 14th ITSA Annual Meeting inSan Antonio.|
|June 25, 2004||ITS Florida presented an Outstanding Achievement Award to Governor Jeb Bush and FDOT District 6 for their successful design and implementation of theSunGuideRegionalTransportationManagementCenter inMiami.|
|July 13, 2004||ITS Florida hosted a sponsored Member Appreciation Reception at the Daytona Beach Resort andConferenceCenter.|
|September 15, 2004||ITS Florida launched a new (second generation) Web site with email capability.|
|September 22, 2004||ITS Florida presented and discussed the ITS Performance Measures in a meeting of the ITS Advisory Council.|
|December 5-8, 2004||ITS Florida partnered with Florida Section of theInstitute ofTransportation Engineers to sponsor Transpo2004 inJacksonville where the theme was “Border Wars – Building Bridges to Overcome Barriers.” Conference sponsors includedGeorgia Section of ITE, ITS Georgia, Georgia DOT, FHWA, and FDOT.|
|December 7, 2004||ITS Florida held its 2004 Annual Meeting at theAdamsMarkHotel inJacksonville,Florida. Buddy Cloud was named as the ITS Professional of the Year. Ken Morefield was named as the ITS Champion of the Year.|
|May 2, 2005||ITSAmericarecognized ITSFloridaas the Outstanding State Chapter at its Annual Meeting inPhoenix. President Charles Wallace accepted the award on the chapter’s behalf.|
|August 10-11, 2005||ITS Florida held a Board Retreat at theHarnMuseum on theUniversity ofFlorida campus. The BoD adopted a universal definition of ITS and established new sets of external and internal goals.|
|October 14, 2005||ITS Florida’s ITS Advisory Council delivered a formal advice entitled “Regional Transportation Management Center Collocation White Paper” to FDOT and the FTC. The paper had been presented to the Advisory Council in August and was approved in September.|
|December 6, 2005||ITSFloridaheld Annual Meeting and Road Weather and ITS Workshop inOrlando. Elizabeth Birriel of FDOT ITS Office received the ITS Florida Professional of the Year Award.|
|May 7-9, 2006||ITS Florida, the FDOT, TEAM Florida, the Miami Dade Expressway Authority and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise co-hosted an exhibit at the 16th ITS America Annual Meeting inPhiladelphia,PA.|
|May 16, 2006||ITS Florida held our monthly meeting in Tallahassee and was visited by Secretary of Transportation Stutler, who shared with us his ideas on the connection of ITS and safety.|
|July 13-14, 2006||ITSFloridapresented our exhibition booth at the Floridian’s for Better Transportation Conference|
|August 15, 2006||ITSFloridaheld a Strategic Planning Retreat at theBrowardCountyRegionalTransportationManagementCenter. Each Committee was charged objectives for each of the external and internal goals that were established at the 2005 Retreat.|
|September 11, 18, 21, 2006||ITSFlorida(Jay Calhoun and Elizabeth McCrary) made presentations to the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization Technical Advisory Committee, Citizen’s Advisory Committee and ITS Committee. The purpose was to introduce ITSFloridaand describe the benefits of ITS.|
|September 14, 2006||ITSFlorida(Charlie Wallace) made a presentation to the First Coast MPO to introduce ITSFloridaand discuss the benefits of ITS.|
|October 27, 2006||ITSFlorida(Jay Calhoun) made a presentation to the MetroPlan Management Committee to introduce ITSFloridaand discuss the use of ITS.|
|November 27-30, 2006||ITSFlorida, the FDOT, Florida ITE, and the FHWA co-sponsored TRANSPO 2006 at the Innisbrook Resort inPalmHarbor. The theme was Empowering Our Mobile Society. Over 450 attendees learned about the latest in ITS. The ITS Florida Annual Meeting was held during the conference. Several awards were presented at the Meeting, including ITSFlorida’s President’s Award, which was presented to Diana Carsey for her tireless efforts as our Executive Director for the past three years.|
|April 2-3, 2007||the ITS Florida Professional Capacity Building Committee offered a course titled “Managing High Technology Projects in Transportation” at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando in conjunction with the Florida Department of Transportation Working Group Meeting. 32 participants attended the training.|
|April 3, 2007||ITSFlorida, the Florida Department of Transportation and ITSAmericateam up for a Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (VII) Showcase Demo at theOrangeCountyConvention CenterinOrlandoto demonstrate the latest advancements in VII.|
|May 2007||OrlandoFloridais selected as the site of the combined ITS World Congress and ITS America Annual Meeting and Exhibition in 2011.|
|May 24, 2007||A second VII Showcase Demo is held at thePrimeOsbornConvention CenterinJacksonvillefor approximately 40 attendees.|
|June 4-6, 2007||ITSFloridaattended and exhibited at the 2007 ITS America Annual Meeting inPalm SpringsCalifornia.|
|June 28, 2007||ITSFloridaattends and exhibits at the annual Floridians for Better Transportation (FBT) Leadership Conference held at the Ritz Carlton hotel inSarasota. A third VII Showcase Demo draws approximately 50 attendees.|
|July 26, 2007||ITSFlorida(K.K. Saxena) made a presentation to the MPOAC at the Governing Board Meeting inOrlando.|
|August 2007||The ITS Florida Membership Survey was sent out to all members.|
|August 21-22, 2007||ITSFloridaheld the 2007 Annual Board Retreat and Board Meeting at the offices of the First Coast Metropolitan Planning Organization inJacksonville.|
|December 11-12, 2007||ITSFloridacelebrated its 2007 Annual Meeting at the Sheraton Suites inTampa,Florida. The event included a Board of Directors Meeting, a two day course provided by the Professional Capacity Building Committee titled “A System Engineering Approach to ITS Projects” and the first ever ITS Florida Members Forum. The Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting were held with Scott Belcher, President and CEO of ITSAmericaaddressing the 120 attendees. During the Awards Ceremony, Jay Calhoun received the ITS Florida Presidents Award and Kenneth Courage, Edward Mueller and Diana Carsey were recognized and admitted to the ITS Florida Honor Roll. ITSFloridahonored our recently deceased friend Anne Brewer by renaming the ITSFloridaAnnual Scholarship the Anne Shanklin Brewer Annual Scholarship in her honor. The winner of the 2007 Anne Shanklin Brewer Annual Scholarship was Ms. Yan Xiao fromFloridaInternationalUniversityinMiami.|
|February 26 – 27, 2008||ITSFloridaparticipated in the Florida Department of Transportation/Florida Transportation Builders’ Association (FDOT/FTBA) statewide Construction Conference exhibit at the Doubletree Hotel inOrlando.|
|March 19 – 20, 2008||The Florida Department of Transportation Working Group and the ITS Florida Board Meeting was held at the Florida Conference Center Hotel inOrlando,FL. The ITSFloridaexhibit was displayed in the exhibition hall.|
|April 2008||ITSFloridaprepared a fact sheet on the benefits of the Road Ranger Program. The Road Ranger program funding was targeted for elimination in recent budget cuts. The public response communicated the importance of this service and helped save this popular service. The Road Ranger program has partial funding restored!|
|June 15 – 19, 2008||The ITSFloridaexhibit was displayed at the Freeway and Tollway Operations Conference (FTOC) held inFt. Lauderdale,FL. ITSFloridamembers helped plan, facilitated and/or presented at this conference.|
|July 23 – 25, 2008||ITSFloridaattended and exhibited at the 2008 Floridians for Better Transportation (FBT) Leadership Retreat. The retreat was held at the Omni Resort at ChampionsGate in theOrlandoarea.|
|September 22 – 25, 2008||A successful Transpo2008 was held at the Rosen Centre inOrlando,FL. The ITSFloridaexhibit was displayed in the exhibition hall. During the Awards Ceremony, Anita Vandervalk received the ITS Florida Presidents Award and Lap Hoang was recognized and admitted to the ITS Florida Honor Roll. Awards were also presented for:|
- ITS Florida Outstanding Achievement Awards
- ITS Florida Professional of the Year
- ITS Champion of the Year
There were over 350 in attendance and over 40 exhibitors. Professional Development Hour Certificates were presented to nearly 100 participants. October 7 – 8, 2008 ITSFloridaheld the 2008 Annual Board Retreat and Board Meeting at the offices of the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization inJacksonville. ITSFlorida’s strategic plan was updated. November 2008 New business cards identifying ITSFlorida’s benefits were developed and distributed to members attending the ITS World Congress and ITS Florida Annual Meeting. The mission is to make it simple to recruit new members by having the benefits identified in bullet format on the back of the business card. November 16 – 20, 2008 ITS World Congress was held at theJavitsConvention CenterinNew York City. ITSAmericahonored ITSFloridawith a “Certificate of Excellence for Organizational and Professional Development”.ITSFloridapresented a “Certificate of Appreciation” to Bernie Wagenblast – Publisher, Transportation Communication Newsletter.ITS Florida in conjunction with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) started the digital countdown clock as preparations get underway for the 18th Annual ITS World Congress to be held jointly with the ITS America Annual meeting, October 16-20, 2011 at the Orlando/Orange County Convention Center. A special ceremony was held on November 18th.ITSFlorida’s new website design was displayed at the ITSFloridaexhibit. December 9, 2008 The ITS Florida Annual Meeting was held at the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization inJacksonville,FL. Larry Yermack, President, Telvent Transportation North America, Chair of the ITS America Sustainable Transportation Initiative addressed the 35 attendees. Pete Vega and Dr. Essam Radwan, outgoing board members, were presented “Certificates of Recognition” for their contributions and service while on the ITS Florida Board of Directors. December 2008 – January 2009 ITSFloridaprepared concise documents to illustrate the need to maintain the Road Ranger Program. The document was sent to legislators, staff members and aides to provide specific data to support the continuance of this valuable program.
ITS Florida—Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Each year the incoming president of ITSFloridais invited to write an article for the SunGuide Disseminator. Thinking about what I would write, it occurred to me that we have many new and not-so-new members, but there are just a relative few of the original group still active (wow, that makes me feel old!), so having been here in the beginning, I thought a quick history of our founding might be of, at least, historical value.
I’m sure I’m not the lone ranger in this idea, but I did act on it and eventually got results. What we now called “ITS” (intelligent transportation systems) had its roots in a series of two meetings instigated by a small group of U.S.DOT, key industry, and academic leaders, who saw the rapidly emerging technologies in the vehicle and traffic management and information systems as a potential “new era” in transportation. They recognized the need to marshal the forces necessary to focus on ITS development as a viable part of transportation. After a series of meetings in several locations, during which the group named itself “Mobility 2000,” a more widely attended meeting was held inSan Antonio in February 1989. If you could see the list of these pioneers, you would recognize that these were the “giants” of our industry. I won’t attempt to list them, for surely some would be omitted, but I can assure you that Dr. Bill Spreitzer, General Motors, retired, knows them all. I didn’t attend that first meeting, but myUniversity ofFlorida colleague, Ken Courage, did and told me this was something that we had to get involved with.
So, in March 1990 outside ofDallas, the second Mobility 2000 meeting was held. I went and came out with the same conclusion. It was really exciting being present at the conception of a new movement. We invented a whole list of new acronyms (for which we’ve been condemned ever since), like ATMS, ADIS (later ATIS), CVO, APTS, and, the mother of them all, IVHS (intelligent vehicle-highway systems)–thanks to Drs. Kan Chen and Bob Ervin, then of theUniversityofMichigan. The key recommendation of this meeting was that there needed to be a national, non-governmental organization to ride herd on this new “industry.” Shortly thereafter, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Highway Users’ Foundation for Safety and Mobility (HUFSAM) teamed up to create the Intelligent Vehicle-Highway Society of America, or IVHS America.
In 1990, IVHS America was incorporated and began business; soon negotiating an on-going arrangement with the U.S.DOT to be a scientific and educational resource as well as a “Federally Utilized Advisor” to the U.S.DOT–in other words, a closely joined association. I was privileged to be at the first and all subsequent meetings of IVHS (and then in 1994, ITS)Americauntil 2002 (this was the only meeting I missed). But that’s not the story. After the first IVHS America meeting inReston,Virginia, in 1990, I concluded that this was indeed the “real deal” and we needed a counterpart organization inFlorida. (…and other states as well–but they could take care of themselves, and several were. In fact, the race was on, although we didn’t know it at the time.)
Accordingly, onJune 4, 1991, while still the Director of theTransportationResearchCenteratUniversityofFlorida, I wrote to then FDOT Secretary of Transportation, Ben Watts, proposing formation of a state-level organization to promote and facilitate IVHS information exchange. I didn’t hear back for a year or so and later learned that Secretary Watts, who was a charter member of the IVHS America Board of Directors, was concerned about competition with the national organization. (This indeed became an issue in several of the fledgling state organizations.) In September 1991, I sent a follow-up letter clarifying the competition issue and assuring that was not the intent. Still no response.
But FDOT wasn’t blind about IVHS. OnApril 13, 1992, FDOT established its first formal policy on IVHS Concepts and Technologies, declaring it FDOT policy to consider IVHS in any major transportation improvement. Meanwhile, the first major IVHS demonstration project, TravTek, was getting cranked up in theOrlandoarea.
Then on May 19, 1992, an informal meeting of FDOT (Frank Carlile, then Assistant Secretary), FHWA Florida Division (Jim Skinner, Division Administrator), Florida Section Institute of Transportation Engineers (FSITE) (Jack Freeman), University of South Florida (Mike Pietrzyk), and University of Florida (yours truly) met at the 2nd IVHS America Annual Meeting in Newport Beach, California. Standing around a luncheon table in a hallway, munching sandwiches, we discussed and quickly agreed, in principle, to pursue “IVHS Florida.” Frank Carlile invited us to meet at the FDOT office inTallahassee, and, on June 5, we met in the Secretary’s conference room and, in effect, founded IVHS Florida. While Frank Carlile was out of the room to take a call, the rest of us named him president and chairman of the board. We were giddy with power!
I was charged with drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for IVHS Florida and Mike Pietrzyk with organizing the first “IVHS Florida Forum.” Several drafts of the MOU were distributed in the subsequent months, and then, onNovember 4, 1992, the first IVHS Florida Forum, co-sponsored with FSITE, was held inOrlando. Dr. James Costantino, Executive Director of IVHS America, was the keynote speaker and announced that, if we signed the MOU ASAP, we would be the first “state chapter.” Four of us signed that day. Then days later (after a legal review) onNovember 10, 1992, Secretary Watts added the final signature to the IVHS Florida Charter to officially create the organization. I’m told that we beatTexasby about a week.
In 1994, we renamed the organization to “ITSFlorida,” following ITSAmerica’s lead. I might add that I was one of two dissenting votes at the ITSA ATMS Committee meeting–the largest by far–feeling that “IVHS” was unique, whereas “ITS” had established research and other centers around the country. And worse of all, it would likely be mistaken as “its”–as has often been the case. Well, you can’t win them all, but I have an IVHS story I’ll be happy to share if you’re interested, which, in the end, might have justified the change. ITSFloridaalso became an official charter-affiliated chapter of ITSAmerica(1995), got incorporated as a 501(c)(3) inFlorida, and joined the ranks of real-world associations.
The birth of ITSFlorida and our early years in terms of events was described in the March 2005 issue of this newsletter, but what was our purpose? From the beginning, we aspired to be a forum for information exchange and outreach for our “new” industry. We would not be a playmaker or team-builder (unlike a few of our early sister chapters) to “get the bucks.” We would not compete with IVHS America; rather we would be a grass roots supporter, funneling local views up to them, and disseminating their good works to our members. Like all volunteer organizations, we were not entirely effective in either of these, but over the years, a number of endeavors have grown and borne fruit, such as:
- Our early annual ITSFloridaForums were successful educational and networking events. We partnered with the Florida Section Institute of Transportation Engineers (FSITE) for all of these, and still do so today. This has been a great partnership for both organizations, avoiding the rigors of competition and divisiveness among our many overlapping members, while producing successful joint ventures.
- In 2000, ITSFloridajoined with FSITE, FDOT, FHWA, and theUniversityofFloridato co-host the millennium statewide transportation event, “Transpo2000–The Future is Now!” inOrlando, featuring every aspect of transportation, literally from earthworks to space. This was arguably the largest statewide transportation event ever in Florida up to that time (about 750 attendees), and certainly the most successful exhibition (104 exhibits, although our 1995 forum in Tallahassee had been a very well-attended exhibit as well, and gave us encouragement to do this in the future).
- Transpo2000 was intended to be a one-time event, but our exhibitors encouraged us–ITSFlorida–to continue. So, again in partnership with FSITE, FDOT, and FHWA, we hosted “Transpo2002–Safety Under the Sun: Technology for Safe and Secure Transportation,” an ITS/operations/planning-only conference inOrlando, attended by 488 and 54 exhibitors.
When we were planning for this (now) traditional biennial event, we selected Jacksonvillefor 2004. We were taken with much of the sports tradition of Jacksonville, with the world-class golf (and home of the PGA), Gator Bowl, Super Bowl XXXIX, and the annual Florida-Georgia game. The latter led to two significant decisions: 1) the conference title we chose was “Transpo2004: Border Wars–Building Bridges to Overcome Barriers,” and 2) obviously, invite Georgiato co-sponsor. Thus our first truly southeast regional ITS et al event was co-sponsored by ITSFlorida andGeorgia,Florida and Georgia Sections ITE, FDOT and GDOT, and FHWA (namely the two Divisions and the Southern Resource Center). About 500 attendees and 72 exhibitors declared Transpo2004 an unqualified success. We believe this was the largest ITS event in the nation outside of ITSAmerica’s Annual Meeting and Expositions and the ITS World Conferences (periodically held in this country). I was honored to be the general chairman, with the outstanding support of Phil Mann (City of Gainesville, representing FSITE) as program chair, Pete Vega (FDOT District 2) as promotions chair, Cheryl Freeman (Parsons Brinckerhoff and First Coast Chapter, FSITE) as the local arrangements committee chair, and a large group of dedicated volunteers who worked their tails off through four hurricanes and a tropical storm to pull it all together. But I digress–just wanted to thank these folks.
- In December 1998, under the leadership of FHWA’s Grant Zammit, we formed the ITSFlorida“Team of Champions” to promote ITS awareness and provide customized training. In March 2002, we renamed this effort the ITS Florida Professional Capacity Building (PCB) Program to be consistent with the national moniker for training activities. Under both names, ITSFloridahas sponsored dozens of workshop, seminars, and “Lunch-and-Learn” forums in subjects ranging from public-private partnerships to fiber optics and the National ITS Architecture. Several thousands of Floridians have attended; indeed, the Web-based Lunch-and-Learn series (offered by PBS&J) has drawn audiences from other states andCanada.
- In August 2001, FDOT designated ITSFloridaas its official Advisory Council, the first such designation in the nation. We have offered advice on training and other minor topics, but last year the Florida Transportation Commission (FTC) asked us to develop performance measures for FDOT’s ITS Program. This project was so successful that the FTC charged FDOT with expanding it to include new data-collection efforts (which had previously not been allowable), an effort that is now underway using the same study team, albeit under direct FDOT oversight. In December of last year the FTC approached us again, this time to offer advice on co-location of multi-agency transportation management centers. This effort is underway.
- ITS Florida has also offered informal-to-formal advice and counsel to others, including former Senator Bob Graham, ITS America, the Federal Communications Commission (regarding the designation of 511 as the national traveler information number), and others.
- In 2002, ITSFloridainitiated an Annual ITS Awareness event at the Capitol inTallahassee. We have toned this down to simple one-on-one meetings with key legislators, which actually began last year.
- For several years we have been partnering with FDOT for joint ITS activities in conjunction with their ITS Working Group Meetings. Our Board of Directors regularly meets during this timeframe, as it did in March 2005.
- ITSFlorida, under the leadership of Anne Brewer of FDOT District 5, is developing an “ITS Florida Tour” that will be a virtual tour of our major ITS facilities in the state, such as TMCs. If security concerns don’t negate this, the system could also be a vehicle for arranging physical tours by visiting ITS professionals from around the state, nation, and world.
In short, we have been a very proactive organization in the areas of training, information exchange, networking, and, now increasingly, as a trusted advisor to state and other agencies.
Our (well, at least my) Vision
The state of our society is strong. We currently have the largest organizational membership in our 12 ¼-year history, at 112. We are recognized as a leading state chapter in the nation. We have a great partnership with our close collegial association (FSITE) and our prime mover and shaker, FDOT. But we need to expand our net to include more local agencies. Membership Chair, Mike Pietrzyk, is working to engage more local transportation agencies on a targeted regional basis. If you work for city or county transportation, get ready—Mike, or an ITSFlorida colleague, will be in touch soon.
This is the same with the MPOs. We only have a few MPO members, although several have been quite active in the past. Of all local agencies, the MPOs hold the greatest power to deploy urban-based ITS on a scale that no others can. We need to enlist their full support, not just to toot the horn of ITS, but to reap the benefits of more effective traffic management and operations.
We have just come off the great success of Transpo2004, but more important is the fact that our tireless Program Committee, under the leadership of Phil Mann from the City of Gainesville, his track chairmen, and mostly the nearly 70 presenters, all prepared their program tracks or individual presentations amidst the onslaught of five major storms—Bonnie, Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne—that hit our shores, cities, and homes this past summer. It is a tremendous credit to our transportation profession that we absorbed this horrific set of blows (pardon the pun) and kept the transportation system running as well as it did. ITS had a key role in all this, but the story hasn’t really been told. This sets the stage for where I see ITSFloridaand our professional community going in the coming years. The transportation community needs to do three things:
- Plan better for dealing with large-scale events of all kinds (including storms, fires, and special events),
- Integrate our incident and emergency management resources better to cooperatively deal with these events, and
- Deploy redundant systems that can keep agencies in touch, communicate with the public, and dispatch needed assistance in a timely manner.
ITSFlorida can be a bully pulpit for planning for the future. As an example, the Florida Transportation Commission has again asked ITSFloridato advise on a crucial topic of the day—agency collocation in TMCs (that is FDOT, Florida Highway Patrol, and other traffic and incident managers working together in regional centers). It’s a pipe dream to believe that this will happen everywhere, but an ITS community-wide examination of the pros, cons, and wherefores is an important and correct role for ITSFlorida.
I have stated on several occasions that the proper future role for ITSAmericais to somewhat return to its roots and be the clearinghouse for, and advocate of, advancing technology applications in transportation. As a state chapter, we need not do research and development ourselves, but we need to stay abreast so we can inform our member organizations of coming opportunities to serve their travel customers.
We can do even more than we have in the past to assist in training our practitioners. I firmly believe that performance excellence in our growing number of TMCs and traffic incident management operations (including our wonderful Road Rangers), must be shored up with a system of professional “qualifications and accreditation.” If construction inspectors and testers in highway construction need to have such formal “Qualifications” to test earth, aggregates, asphalt, and concrete; why not fiber splicers, TMC operators, and Road Rangers?
We should be the state’s leading advocate for ITS—not for its namesake, but for the enlightened perspective it brings—namely traffic operations is the key mission of the transportation community. To accomplish this, we need to continually reach out to others in our transportation community, embrace and partner with the public safety community, bring decision makers on board with hard evidence of the values of intelligent/integrated/institutional transportation systems, and educate the public in safer transportation practices.
These are all practical activities that a mostly volunteer organization can guide and nurture, but cannot operate on a sustained basis (at least not without outside financial support), so our role is to examine the needs and formulate recommended actions by public agencies, private companies, academia, and effected associations.
In closing, I thank ITSFlorida—particularly its member organizations that elected me, and my many colleagues statewide—for your trust. Working together, we can placeFloridaand Transpo squarely on the national map of transportation.
* * * *
This article was provided by Charles Wallace, ITS Florida. For more information, please contact Mr. Wallace at (352) 374-6635 or e-mail Charlie.Wallace@cox.net.
This article was originally published in two parts in the March and April 2005 issues of the SunGuidesm Disseminator, which is the Florida DOT’s monthly ITS newsletter. It is republished by ITS Florida with permission. To find copies of the SunGuide Disseminator, see the following link:
To view a PDF document of ITS Florida History click here.
To view a PDF document of ITS Florida—Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow click here.