Transportation technology: Smart solutions or gimmickry?

Steve LeSueur, Washington Technology editor

Not surprisingly, the demand for transportation solutions has been getting a big boost from post-Sept. 11 efforts to make highway travel more secure, especially across borders and through other checkpoints.

The top players in this market expect government officials to make intelligent transportation systems a major component of homeland security ? a logical extension for systems that can track vehicles, control traffic flow and monitor shipments of hazardous materials.

In our cover story this issue, Staff Writer William Welsh details some of the efforts to expand the security-related role of transportation systems, as well as some of the obstacles to integrating these systems with the police and other public safety organizations.

But a word of caution before you get carried away by the claims in our cover story. First read our "Survival Guide" interview with Washington Post columnist Ron Shaffer, a.k.a. Dr. Gridlock, the self-described "Ann Landers of commuters" for the Washington region. Dr. Gridlock said he is skeptical that information technology can do much to help commuters, calling transportation systems he has seen "more gimmickry than solution."

Those of you who build intelligent transportation systems may want to invite him out to see your solutions in action.

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