Monday, Sept. 17, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Nevada has become a hotbed for emerging technology testing, whether it is in public transportation, autonomous vehicles, drones or smart communities.
Tina Quigley, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada general manager, was invited to speak last week about those initiatives in front of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in Washington, D.C.
Quigley, who was introduced by Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, raved about the bevy of technology-based transportation initiatives going on in Las Vegas. She stressed the importance of the government’s help in providing funding for new technology projects, along with aid in navigating the regulatory process and best practices in working with the private sector.
“The more we can turn to the (government) for best practices and what to and what not to do, the wiser decisions we’ll make within our own region,” Quigley said.
Cortez Masto is a big proponent of tech-based projects in the state, introducing the Innovation State Initiative, a series of legislation that supports, strengthens and promotes Nevada’s leadership in technology.
“There must be a partnership between the local and the federal government,” Cortez Masto said. “There must be that flexibility to make sure that emerging technology can continue to innovate, and at the same time, we as the federal government and the regulatory agencies, recognize the need for that flexibility and we are not stuck in standards that are 20th century.”
Calling Nevada an innovation state, Cortez Masto said one of the reasons she asked to hold the hearing is to showcase what Nevada is doing and to urge the federal government to continue to do what it can to help further the state’s actions.
“Around the world in innovation, we also have to recognize part of that investment includes investing in broadband and connecting all of our underserved communities, whether they’re rural or urban areas,” she said.
Quigley said the RTC will continue forging ahead with new initiatives, including a planned autonomous vehicle program for the medical district in downtown Las Vegas.
The RTC applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation BUILD Transportation grants for its “Go Med” autonomous program. The concept would link the four hospitals in the downtown area with the Bonneville Transit Center.
“Creating connectivity between and within the medical district and our transit hub using four autonomous shuttles to connect those facilities,” Quigley said. “Also, create smart bus shelters that have Wi-Fi connectivity.”
Additionally, the project will address pedestrian safety by utilizing technology for pedestrian sensors in crosswalks.
“It’s very difficult to do traffic calming in the medical district because you can’t have speed bumps, because it’s too difficult for ambulances to navigate,” Quigley said. “As a result, it’s very difficult to slow traffic down.”