Technology

State and Local Policy Program
Humphrey School of Public Affairs

301 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Technological innovations create new challenges for policy, which almost always is developed in reaction to existing technologies. Unless policy makers have a good understanding of how technology is evolving, new or unchanged policies can act as constraints to realizing the full benefits of new technology. Information technology is dramatically changing the management and operation of transportation systems.

Autonomous Vehicles

In particular, recent technological and regulatory developments indicate that automated or “self-driving” cars may be as close to reality as ever. Given the potential benefits to safety, infrastructure efficiency, and access, planners need to develop scenarios that consider how the widespread use of these vehicles will impact transportation and land use patterns, as well as related activities.

Community-based Transportation

Technology also is contributing to improvements in transportation policy in the near term. SLPP has led research into car sharing, where people use cars for short periods of time, usually by the hour; transit services for individuals who, because of age, disability, poverty, or other reasons, cannot routinely use automobiles; and bike sharing.

These services, commonly known as community-based transportation, are often criticized for needing to be more effective and efficient, given the resources expended. SLPP’s research seeks to understand the full range of activities that fall within the purview of community-based transit, to identify and clarify the possible sources of inefficiency, and to develop ways to make the systems work better.

Telework

SLPP has examined how telecommunications technologies enable a wide variety of transportation options and enhancements, especially telework.

The program has partnered with the State of Minnesota and the Metropolitan Council to develop the eWorkPlace project, which provides resources that employers can use to establish and promote telecommuting. 

SLPP collaborated on Project STRIDE (Strategic Telework Research in Disability Employment), which conducted research to determine how well telework will answer the needs of employees with disabilities.