We’re on the cusp of substantial changes in transportation. Working remotely will become more commonplace; internal combustion is giving way to electric vehicles; self-driving technology is expanding; connectivity technology will network vehicles while presenting new cybersecurity challenges; multimodal travel is drawing attention from commuters and travelers; and as more data about how and where we move becomes available, new questions will be raised about transport and road design. How will transit systems and the governments in charge of them handle these changes, and what’s the role of government innovation?
The Virginia Department of Transportation has responded by launching its own Virtual Innovation Lab. On December 15th, 9am PST, you can hear from the Vtrans team in a webinar about how they approach innovation and why it’s so crucial to better public service.
Part of the challenge for the Innovation Lab is just the sheer size and scope of transportation in the Commonwealth of Virginia. With eight departments under the aegis of the state’s Secretary of Transportation, touching everything from car dealerships to commercial spaceflight, there’s a huge variety of skills, approaches, needs, and desires to manage.
The Lab’s goal is to marshal these resources across the department to address common issues facing all Virginians. That was part of the reason it was a virtual lab instead of an in-person one. One of the core challenges of government innovation is how widely distributed the workforce is and how varied it is. And an added challenge for the commonwealth is the wide diversity and needs of the different departments.
The online lab is more convenient, allowing anybody in the department to log in, look at what’s being discussed, and offer their own views and data. It also helps engage different departments with each other. Another virtue is that the platform makes it easy to track the evolution of an approach, feedback on it, and other information crucial to making an informed decision with the input of all stakeholders.
Remote work is a good example. While every organization is looking closely at the future of remote work, it’s particularly pressing on the government level. Some employees simply can’t work from home. Others need to interact with citizens as part of their role or need their feedback, while still others are out in the field, working on infrastructure. What does a fair, equitable, and easy to grasp system look like for the department? What challenges exist to that system? That’s part of what the team is finding out.
During the webinar, the staff will discuss some key points for anyone thinking about developing a virtual innovation lab:
- Why a virtual lab system was chosen, its virtues, and its challenges.
- What the team learned from setting up the lab and building it out for everyone on the Vtrans team.
- What results they’ve gotten from the lab.
- And what the future holds for the virtual innovation lab and other government innovation approaches.