This is post number 100 for the Work Zone ITS Blog. So I hope you will humor us as we celebrate this milestone and look back on the past few years in our industry. The blog began in August of 2012. The goal was to initiate a conversation on work zone ITS. We imagined lots of public comments and a lively discussion on topics of interest. That has not been the case. Too many of you are shy or prefer to keep your opinions at the unofficial level. And that’s OK.
It has been well worth doing anyway. We get lots of comments, but they are back channel rather than public. Many of those have led to additional posts. So thank you all for that help.
Our industry has changed significantly over these past four years. Acceptance of work zone ITS is greater than ever before. We have gone from a deployment here and there to required use in states like Texas. Other states like Illinois and Indiana are now using systems on most major projects. Many more states are ramping up their use of these systems, as well.
Manufacturers have come and gone. Some that are still here have changed their business models. Most manufacturers now understand that a local presence is important to provide agencies with fast, frequent service of their systems. So those manufacturers are building relationships with local contractors.
The technology has proven itself. LEDs, batteries, solar systems, and digital communications have all greatly improved. In particular, 4G modems and the cost and availability of satellite communications have made great improvements. Those improvements have resulted in systems that are easy to deploy and super-dependable while reducing costs at the same time.
Our systems will continue to evolve, adding more features and seamlessly integrating with other systems and devices. Work zone ITS is already very cost-effective. Pricing may continue somewhat lower, but most cost reductions will come at the contractor level as they amortize their fleets and learn what their true costs of deployment are.
New challenges lie ahead, especially with regard to automated and autonomous vehicles. There is a lot of talk about our place in that new world. And as that becomes clearer, it will be interesting adapting our systems to help guide driverless vehicles through our work zones safely and efficiently.
Finally, as we start 2017, I would like to thank those of you who have been here since the beginning. You know who you are. About 25 of us have been in this more or less from the start. That group includes manufacturers, contractors like Road-Tech, and some state DOTs. You are the true believers and it is because of your vision and hard work over these many years that have made this all possible. We have a bright future ahead of us and we look forward to working with you all.