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Transportation Dept. Creates Online Technology Exchange

Digital Transportation Exchange aims to connect the public and private sectors to create and fund innovations for the transportation industry.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has launched an online exchange to connect the federal government with private stakeholders--particularly venture capitalists and other investors--to create technology innovations in the transportation community.

The move is yet another example of the effort federal agencies under the Obama administration have made to engage the private sector to come up with ideas for using Web 2.0 technology more creatively, as well as trying to find ways to commercialize those innovations.

The Digital Transportation Exchange (DTE) is aimed at connecting "citizens, businesses, state and local governments, industry, entrepreneurs, researchers, and investors" to create a "thriving online marketplace for the agile creation of transportation solutions," according to a blog post about the site by DOT CIO Nitan Pradhan.

The DOT hopes the exchange not only will help connect people with ideas both inside and outside the government, but also entrepreneurs that want to build upon those ideas with the people who can provide the money to back them, Pradhan said.

"Imagine the innovative solutions we could create to manage congestion, freight transport, connected vehicle systems, and 911 responders by encouraging and leveraging private sector investment and expertise in an open, public setting," she wrote. "DTE could provide this setting and enable all stakeholders to contribute to creative projects."

The DOT is seeking feedback on how best the forum can help both public and private stakeholders and is conducting an online discussion through Sept. 23 to elicit ideas.

"The DOT hopes the DTE will create an optimal space for a dynamic online community that identifies and creates solutions to issues citizens face in the transportation sector every day," she said.

Some governments already are using next-generation transportation solutions to make their systems run more efficiently. New York City, for example, has leveraged a citywide mobile network to convert its more than 12,000 traffic signals to wireless to improve traffic management.

Other federal agencies also have formalized the exchange of expertise and ideas about technology with the private sector. The Department of Homeland Security earlier this year launched the Commercialization, Utilization, Relevance, and Evaluation (SECURE) program, which gives companies the requirements of a technology, product, or service DHS is seeking, as well as a rough idea of what other customers might exist for the technology. In return, the companies engage in R&D to meet the requirements of developing the technology.

The DHS and other agencies also are exchanging employees with the private sector in certain areas of expertise to help fill in the technology gaps and develop new ideas.

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