Every Innovation Starts With A Conversation
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InfraTalk America is pleased to launch the InfraTalk Podcast, a bi-weekly podcast focused on the betterment of infrastructure through advanced innovations. Hosted by Greg Nadeau and special guest hosts, the podcast will introduce its audience to infrastructure industry experts who are driving innovation via new technologies ranging from digital to material. The leaders you will hear from are insiders on the front lines of the rapidly evolving infrastructure and transportation industry. 

Additionally, the podcast will focus on where national topics like equity, equality and diversity are also driving change, and where we can do better. Out of the gate, our inaugural series focuses on how women are leading innovation. We are thrilled to have some of the industry’s top women leaders talking about their career journey as well as current challenges and solutions. 

The transportation infrastructure industry has long been a male-dominated field. In spite of this, women engineers, architects and designers have continued to play prominent roles in the advancement of the infrastructure industry. Over the past several years, many of these women have risen to leadership roles.  

The InfraTalk Podcast’s inaugural season launches with the “Women Leading Innovation in Transportation Infrastructure” mini-series. This series features in-depth discussions with some of the industry’s most prominent female figures as they discuss the barriers and possible solutions to decades-long issues.  

“If we’re able to implement technologies that are going to help us be more efficient and productive, which we all know the construction industry lags in terms of production,” said President and CEO of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), Audrey Copeland, “then that is going to help us overcome the hurdles that some of these disruptions present and make our industry a lot more exciting.”  

Disrupters, as Copeland mentioned, refer to advancements in technology that require new policy and procedures. These advancements, as technologically innovative as they are, still demand rigorous planning and programing before they can be implemented on a large scale.  

Despite the growing amount of technology and new practices waiting to be implemented, the difficulty lies not in the industry’s unwillingness to adapt, but rather in their inability to integrate these disruptions systematically. 

Former Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) and newly appointed Executive Director of the Transportation Research Board, Victoria Sheehan, is no stranger to the complexities of bringing new, innovative technologies to the industry’s forefront. 

“State DOTs often get a bad rep. We are very quick to embrace new technologies and innovation. We spend a lot of money on research and deploying pilot uses of varying technologies,” said Sheehan. “Where we [state DOTs] struggle is mainstreaming. There are numerous reasons why it is difficult to change our processes and attitudes and make the use of technology part of our everyday business.”   

Although mass integration is often a long process and difficult to accomplish, one technological advancement is on its way to being mainstreamed across all DOTs and transportation infrastructure projects. E-ticketing, a method of digital ticket entry and processing meant to eliminate multi-part paper tickets, creates safer, more precise information transfers between suppliers by improving the accessibility of digital project data. Traditionally, the transportation infrastructure industry used paper for material tickets and as-built plans. Paper tickets are difficult to keep track of and can lead to loss of time, revenue and resources. 

Shante Hastings, deputy secretary and chief engineer for the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), details how e-Ticketing has changed the way the industry operates: “We’ve been doing our pavement operations [this] way for a really long time and e-ticketing really kind of revolutionizes that,” said Hastings. “So having all that data in a system approach provides efficiency on so many different levels. Whether it be the person who collects those tickets all the way down to the asset management that the department is involved in, so it really is going to revolutionize how we do business in that space.” 

The InfraTalk Podcast, hosted by Greg Nadeau, publisher of InfraTalk America and a former Federal Highway Administrator, will launch November 17th and feature thought-provoking conversations regarding the future of infrastructure in America. 

Join us every other Thursday as we discuss the latest innovations in transportation infrastructure and a variety of solutions to the policy roadblocks that can prevent the mainstream adoption of new technologies. Subscribe to the InfraTalk Podcast to ensure you stay up to date on the conversation.