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.

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. SLPP sponsored a symposium on these issues in October 2014, with the proceedings included in an issue of the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science and Technology.

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, and regarding transit services, to those individuals, who, because of age, disability, poverty, or other reasons, cannot routinely use automobiles. These services, commonly known as "community-based transportation," are often criticized for needing to be 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 system work better.

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

SLPP also  continues to partner with one of Minnesota's leading telecommunications policy leaders, Milda Hedblom, in hosting the Telecommunications and Information Society Policy (TISP) Forum, the central clearinghouse for policy discussion in Minnesota and neighboring states on critical issues in telecommunications and information policy. The TISP Forum is an open, neutral venue in which all voices are welcome. The idea behind the forum is simple and essential: purposeful exchange on key issues with engaged stakeholders to create a better information future.

State and Local Policy Program

Humphrey School of Public Affairs
301 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455