Overcoming Roadblocks to Innovation: Three Case Studies at the California Department of TransportationAuthor/Presenter: Orcutt, Lawrence H.; AlKadri, Mohamed Y.
This paper examines the experience of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in three recent innovations developed at its Division of Research and Innovation. Although these innovations promised significant returns on investment, their deployment faced serious challenges, which motivated this research. A literature review was conducted and professionals were interviewed to analyze the roadblocks. The innovations, roadblocks, successful mitigation measures, and lessons learned in each case are presented. The first case is Sensys, a compact, low-cost, wireless traffic-sensing system that can replace more expensive inductive loops. The second case is the Construction Analysis for Pavement Rehabilitation Strategies software, which simulates highway construction and traffic activities at construction zones and predicts traffic delays associated with simulation scenarios, to optimize construction timing and quality and minimize construction costs and effect on traffic. The third case is the Balsi Beam, a mobile frame designed to protect highway workers. Findings show that deployment faced roadblocks because (a) transportation projects were complex, multifaceted, and interjurisdictional with many players having different interests; (b) multiple layers of decision making sometimes lacked logic; (c) public-sector procurement was driven by competitive, multiple low-bid processes that often infringed on intellectual property rights; (d) public agencies resisted change; and (e) risk-averse executives hesitated to implement new innovations. To mitigate roadblocks, a systems engineering process is advocated, one that ensures that customers are included in all phases so that the final product meets their needs and satisfies their requirements. Findings underline the need to interconnect researchers, developers, operators, and decision makers by improving communications at all levels and stages. There is need for timely establishment of criteria for evaluating innovations and for creation of innovative champions.
Publisher: Transportation Research Board
Publication Date: January 1, 2009
Source URL: Link to URL
Publication Types: Reports, Papers, and Research Articles
Topics: Temporary Barriers; Work Zone Safety