Ariel Gold, data program manager for the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office at the Department of Transportation, discusses her work speeding up data-sharing at DOT and need for open conversation with those who use the data.
As part of its research mission, the Department of Transportation collects tons of vehicle data every day. Now, DOT is increasing how much of this data they share with state and local governments, companies, and the public. In addition, they’re moving the release schedule from months to real-time. Ariel Gold, data program manager for the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office at the Transportation Department, is leading the charge on this open data initiative, and has been nominated for a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal for her efforts. Gold said that because those who use DOT data have some common ground, sharing data quickly makes collaboration easier. “Starting a conversation around data can be sensitive, it kind of shuts down dialogue sometimes. One of the keys to success in this area has been to find those nuggets of mutual benefit. In the automated vehicle space, we turn the typical question around. Not asking ‘What data do you need?’ but saying ‘What problem are you trying to solve?’” said Gold. “Whether you’re a human or an autonomous vehicle, you have trouble safely navigating around a work zone. That’s a nugget, and the basis for a project we were able to launch to improve work zone data around the country.”