TRB 2013 Impressions

The transportation industry is BIG business. As geomatics professionals we might like to think of ourselves as the center of that universe, but trust me we are far from it. It was encouraging to see Mandli’s mobile LiDAR+ data collection vehicle parked on the TRB show floor – they are certainly doing what they can to promote the benefits of the technology, but when you see the scope of products and services being offered as well as the topics being addressed in the presentations it is slightly overwhelming.

The Federal Highway Administration was out in full force. They are certainly promoting innovation with their Every Day Counts program, as well as others, but the DOTs have a somewhat different perspective as they are on the receiving side.

One important idea that came out of a session on research into improving vertical heights from GPS was that the core problem is we are trying to squeeze too much accuracy from our current systems. The fundamental rule that control should be an order of magnitude better than the high frequency measurements is being violated. If we need 0.01′ then our control in theory should be 0.001′!!

The transportation agencies in this country are under huge stress. The gas tax revenue is declining and their assets overall are in very bad condition. Major changes are going to have to take place in order to reverse this trend. Technology can help, but it is not a panacea.

We are going to need some very creative solutions.

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