TransOvation Award(WASHINGTON) – More than 70 transportation and technology professionals recently gathered at Microsoft Headquarters in Washington State to explore how big data will influence transportation infrastructure during the 4th Annual “Dr. J. Don Brock TransOvation™ Workshop,” hosted by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Development Foundation (ARTBA-TDF).

Experts from Microsoft’s Internet of Things (IoT) group as well as their partner, Aditi Technologies, kicked off the event by explaining how big data is being used to connect and enhance major transportation networks like the London Underground transit system.

Innovation thought leaders and industry experts, including Ross Smith with Microsoft, Ted Zoli with HNTB, John Hillman with HC Bridge Company and Raymond Chiu with 3M, then inspired and challenged the workshop attendees to offer innovative ideas on how big data can be used to dramatically change the roadway experience in the U.S.

Thought provoking concepts included creating data hubs to better connect the commuter and infrastructure; using data to monetize transportation assets; increasing safety by being able to report real-time traffic incidents and re-routing traffic in accelerated speeds; and creating virtual games for the commuter to incentivize driver behavior.

Also taking place during the event was the TransOvation™ Awards Program honoring  “innovative transportation infrastructure-related products, services, technologies and techniques introduced over the past five years that can be documented to provide a high return-on-investment by: improving transportation safety; saving transportation users and taxpayers time and/or money; or making our transportation infrastructure more environmentally sustainable.” This year, there were two winners.

Top honors went to EMSEAL JOINT SYSTEMS for their Bridge Expansion Joint System (BEJS), a traffic durable bridge and road expansion joint which fills expansion gaps and provides a water tight seal for vulnerable sections of a bridge. The innovative product functions well in thermal shock conditions on new structures as well as on decks. It is recommended for concrete–to-concrete substrates, rebuilt joint faces, or where demolition and removal of existing embedded metal angles is not feasible or affordable.

The second winner was Transurban for their work on the 495 Express Lanes in northern Virginia.  By using innovative congestion management techniques, Transurban reduced traffic in one of the most congested roadways in America.  The nearly $2 billion, 14-mile long Express Lanes keep traffic flowing through the use of an all-electronic dynamic tolling system that adjusts prices based on real-time traffic conditions and features a series of electronic signs that communicate with drivers. The system also uses video technology to automatically detect accidents and assists in the enforcement of High Occupancy Vehicle requirements.  The project, which opened in November 2012, replaced $260 million worth of aging infrastructure, including more than 50 bridges, creating new and safer overpasses for bike and pedestrian traffic.

The ARTBA-TDF was established in 1985 as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity to “promote research, education and public awareness.”  It supports an array of initiatives, including educational scholarships, awards, executive education seminars, roadway work zone safety and training programs, special economic reports and a national exhibition on transportation.