FREEtheMIBS appoints advisory board

The American campaign encouraging traffic signal controller and ITS device manufacturing standards has announced the formation of its advisory board to push forward its case.

The FREEtheMIBS campaign wants manufacturers and public sector agencies to unite behind opening and sharing device NTCIP protocols – specifically, management information bases (MIBs).

They say all the board members were nominated and selected from the “broadest spectrum” of transportation management including private industry, public agencies, consultants, and academia.

The initial ten-member board includes:
Alan Davis, Assistant State Traffic Engineer, Georgia Department of Transportation
Doug Spencer, ITS Standards Engineer, Oregon Department of Transportation
Tam Tran, Associate Traffic Engineer, City of Oceanside, CA
Carlos Ortiz, Chief Operating Officer, Advantec Consulting Engineers
Dr. Edward Smaglik, Professor and Director of AZTrans: The Arizona Laboratory for Applied Transportation Research, Northern Arizona University
Michael Gaertner, Director of ITS Solutions and R&D, Siemens
Tom Stiles, Executive Vice President of ATMS Solutions, Q-Free
Erin Skimson, Vice President of Product Management and Corporate Programs, Miovision
John Snedeker, Territory Manger, Traffic Control Products, Inc.
Trisha Tunilla, Executive Vice President of Marketing, Q-Free America

Tunilla, #FREEtheMIBS Advisory Board chair and executive vice president of marketing at Q-Free America said the board represents a wide range of viewpoints. “We’re honoured to have such a diverse, talented group of thought leaders form our initial board,” she said. “Bringing together so many unique perspectives is critical to our mission to find the best, safest solutions for more openly sharing transportation protocols in the name of innovation and collaboration.”

Often kept proprietary by the manufacturer, MIBs are the common language protocols used to communicate between central traffic management systems and ITS devices including traffic signal controllers. By not making MIBs available to customers or other companies, manufacturers can extend legacy contracts and keep them sole-sourced for years, locking out potentially more cost-effective or innovative solutions because their products cannot communicate with those from other companies.

Advisory board members share a common mindset that restricting the use of vendor-specific management information bases is bad for transportation professionals, communities, and taxpayers. New board member Erin Skimson, vice president of product management and corporate programs for Miovision, said, “Our customers in the public sector are demanding open standards. They want to take advantage of emerging ITS technologies that can combine data from different sources to gain new insights and enable new capabilities. But, if the data is locked into proprietary systems with closed protocols — they’re really limited as to what they can do, now and in the future. Open standards keep the customer in charge.”

The board held its inaugural meeting virtually on December 3 with their first action being to start a new industry-wide advocacy and education campaign to bring awareness to this critical issue. Alan Davis, assistant state traffic engineer at the Georgia Department of Transportation, said, “There’s a substantial education effort that needs to go forward for agencies, both at a state level and city level. Not everyone understands the complexities of MIBs and the long history of existing standards that have gotten us to this point in the industry. We have to inform the civil engineer who’s operating the system, all the way up to the executive management team, so they all understand why executives from companies are trying to remove specific language on protocols from contracts.”

Campaign founder Tom Stiles said the board is open to all types of cooperation and collaboration. “Since the beginning we have continued to welcome all opinions – even contrary ones – and adjust accordingly to meet the needs of all parties and ensure no one gets left behind that doesn’t want to be.” He concluded, “We’re having a lot of great conversations with people trying to figure out how to make the leap forward to open protocols, and that’s what this advisory board is all about.”

Board members will be seated for a two-year term, renewable for an additional two years. The group will meet up to four times per year to discuss the campaign’s direction, existing and new initiatives, as well as emerging industry trends.

The FREEtheMIBs campaign recently celebrated its one-year anniversary and features active and influential members from both the private and public sectors, as well as academia including Q-Free, Siemens, Miovision, the Oregon and Utah Departments of Transportation.

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