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T&DI Advocates Artificial Intelligence and Data Sensing and Analytics Committees

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Emerging Technologies Council of ASCE T&DI, a council inaugurated two years ago by the T&DI Board of Governors, is focused primarily on the impact of emerging technologies on transportation systems and transportation infrastructure. The Council is chaired by Dr. Zhanmin Zhang, Professor at The University of Texas at Austin.

Two new task committees have recently been established under the Council: Committee on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Committee on Data Sensing and Analytics (DSA).

The AI Committee is chaired by Dr. Lili Du, Associate Professor at the University of Florida (left) and Mr. Kenneth Spitz, AICP, Transportation Planning Manager at FDOT District 7 (right).

The DSA committee is chaired by Dr. Nizar Lajnef, Associate Professor at Michigan State University (left) and Dr. Yao‐Jan Wu, Associate Professor at the University of Arizona (right).

The two new committees still have vacancies in their membership.

Dr. Du and Mr. Spitz had the following to say about Artificial Intelligence:

"...The past decade has witnessed the great rise of Artificial Intelligence technologies. Building on concurrent advances in computing power, Big Data, and theoretical understanding, AI techniques have become an essential part of the advanced technology industry.

Artificial Intelligence is crucial because it has tremendous application potential in transportation. Significant improvements in safety, efficiency and sustainability are foreseen especially with mainstreaming of connected and automated vehicles. Management, operation and control systems will provide greater integration of all transportation modes.

A new set of powerful technologies, which can address all kinds of challenging problems for transportation management, operations and control. Consider that only a century ago automobiles and airplanes were paradigm shifting new technologies. While the cars and planes of today bear only superficial resemblance to those early prototypes, the most important changes have been internal - in their means of operation. Utilizing AI will once again alter that relationship.

AI is improving health care, manufacturing, power systems, homeland security - as well as transportation. In these, and other fields, AI will change how humans will live in the future. This is an exciting time to be a researcher and scientist.."

Dr. Lajnef also commented on the Data Sensing and Analytics task committee and shared the following information:

"...Significant progress has been made in recent years on advanced sensing systems and big data analytics, including sensor networks for the acquisition of informative material and structural behavior of critical infrastructure components, traffic monitoring and optimization, machine learning, simulation models, and probabilistic risk analysis built on performance-based approaches. These rapid advances in sensor technology and computational methods and capabilities are offering new possibilities to provide reliable risk analysis and sustainable solutions to the long-term management of transport and infrastructure systems

Being part of a forum for transportation professionals, infrastructure owners and operators, industry, academia, consultants, and the federal government to discuss today's and tomorrow's needs in sensing data and information systems related to transportation issues. 

Critical infrastructure and transportation systems are the foundational mainstay of any nation's economy, security, and well-being. The continuing challenge in ensuring the resiliency of our infrastructure, is the unpredictable nature of the risk and the extreme complexity of an ever-growing interconnected system and mobility networks. These challenges compel the need to transition from solving isolated engineering problems to interconnected ones with social and economic impacts. Continuous monitoring, sensing, and data analytics are now essential tools for smarter more efficient infrastructure management strategies."

Anyone who is interested in becoming a member and/or contributing to the committee work should feel free to contact Dr. Lili Du at lilidu@ufl.edu or Mr. Kenneth Spitz, AICP at kenneth.spitz@dot.state.fl.us for the AI committee and Dr. Nizar Lajnef lajnefni@egr.msu.edu or Dr. Yao‐Jan Wu at yaojan@arizona.edu for the DSA committee.

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