The AASHTO Committee on Transportation Communications (Transcomm) held it's annual meeting this week in Biloxi, MS. Chaired by Kyle Schneweis, Nebraska DOT Director, the committee and industry stakeholders gathered to promote excellence in transportation communications, exchange ideas and best practices, and to discuss emerging trends and needs in the transportation industry.
In addition to discussions on communications around funding, construction, and emergency response, the meeting featured important conversations around how to communicate about new transportation technologies, including connected and autonomous vehicles. Beth Emmons, Assistant Director of Community Relations at Tennessee DOT, led a session on the impact of CAVs on stakeholder engagement and communications, discussing the role communicators will play in the advancement of autonomous vehicles around not just the safety and mobility potentials, but also internal and interagency communications needs that are required for such a shift in how the roads are operated.
Also very relevant for the TSMO community, Transcomm and transportation communicators maintain a consistent focus on the traveling public and the customers using our roadways. Sessions around digital media and emerging communications trends tackled how best to educate and serve the traveling public, during both non-recurrent congestion with comprehensive social media plans, as well as around new strategies to operate our roadways. Conversations also focused on how the role of communicators is not just to speak to the customer but also to listen to the traveling pubic, learn what they need from their transportation system, and figure out how to communicate that back to the DOT.
Chairman Kyle Schneiweis led the event's proceedings and attendees were welcomed by Melinda McGrath, P.E., Executive Director, Mississippi DOT, and Mike Tagert, Transportation Commission for the State of Mississippi during an opening session that also included a valuable debrief on structural communications challenges during Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill.