Where’s Transit? Interestingly, ideas related to transit made up just 2.5% of the total entries with two lone submissions on how DSRC might improve passenger transportation. The first – a joint entry from DKS Associates and King County Metro, Wash., – examined whether an existing ITS network built by King County in the 4.9MGz public safety band satisfied the DOT’s vision of an all-encompassing wireless network despite not operating in the mandated 5.9GHz DRSC frequency and thus not currently being interoperable with future systems developed in that band. King County outlined that it chose 4.9GHz due to the ready availability of spectrum and equipment during the design phase in 2007-2008, and interoperability with public safety organizations, including law enforcement. Unlike DSRC, 4.9GHz is a well-accepted standard in common use today. Nevertheless King County recognized the importance of long-term interoperability with DSRC, and how a modular system such as the one they’ve deployed could be upgraded to support 5.9GHz radios alongside existing 4.9GHz, acting as a bridge between two unified technologies. The authors, John Toone and Bryan Nace, made a good case for how their deployment embraced 'the best principles of both the US DOT IntelliDrive and the DHS/FCC Public Safety goals.' Figure 2 – King County Transit ITS Architecture (2011) The second transit-oriented submission from a group at Texas A&M University examined how DSRC could be implemented to create an ad-hoc wireless network between transit vehicles, passengers and pedestrians to exchange real-time transit information, while factoring in data such as passenger counts on buses and trains. The authors argued that a decentralized DSRC-based system would provide more accurate and timely information than existing solutions such as smart phone apps, while adding a layer of real-time interactivity for trip planning, vehicle rerouting, and service query. With on-board wireless systems becoming increasingly common in buses and trains for AVL, passenger Wi-Fi and remote CCTV access, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to add a DSRC-compliant 5.9GHz radio to interface with IntelliDrive applications such as that suggested by A&M, as long as the on-board systems are extensible and preferably open-source based. DOT should be congratulated for encouraging the spirit of innovation with the Connected Vehicle Challenge. While it might have been more commercially driven, it has clearly stimulated ideas on how to implement DSRC in meaningful ways. Hopefully this will prompt CIOs within transit agencies to consider how wireless solutions they deploy today might evolve to interact with IntelliDrive solutions tomorrow. -- Jim Baker is CEO at Xentrans Inc., a wireless project management consultancy based in San Francisco and London. A C-level wireless industry veteran, Baker has been involved in many deployments of wireless technologies on passenger transportation worldwide and is a recognized industry expert on Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G convergence. He is chair of the Technology Committee at the Joint Council on Transit Wireless Communications [http://www.transitwireless.org] that is developing a strategic plan for implementation of wireless technologies in mass transit. Contact Baker via LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.