By Bryant Ficek, PE, PTOE
At the ITE Annual meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Jeff Paniati, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, opened the meeting with a discussion on the state of ITE. Jeff emphasized the groundwork from 2016 of the ‘new’ ITE which includes the following four cornerstones:
- Recognized – ITE is recognized as a leader by the transportation community;
- Relevant – ITE is seen as relevant to address key transportation issues in the United States and internationally;
- Value-Added – ITE adds value to its members and is a go-to source for transportation professionals;
- Connected – ITE connects its members to each other and to our partner organizations.
Along with the six areas of focus (Vision Zero, Smart Communities, Connected Vehicles/Autonomous Vehicles, Transportation and Public Health, Modernizing Trip Generation, and Expanding ITE’s Global Reach), Jeff and the International Board of Direction believe a solid foundation has been provided for change within ITE. In turn, renewed energy and focus is being put toward new initiatives, continued membership growth, and new partnerships and collaborations.
Back in 2012, Mike wrote about 10 ideas for big changes at ITE. I re-visited that article (available here) to see how far ITE has come in the past five years. Spoiler alert – there have been some significant progress in many areas of ITE and speak to the organization’s cornerstones of recognized, relevant, value-added and connected. But opportunities for improvement remain in many areas. Here’s how ITE measures up to the recommendations Mike made in 2012.
- Move. Nope, ITE is still in DC, an expensive city. There are reasons to be there, such as advocacy. But does the office need to be directly north of the White House or could there be lasting savings from a relocation?
- Use Amazon’s CreateSpace to distribute publications (hard and electronic). I don’t believe ITE is using Amazon, but it appears they are using a third party for the distribution of their materials. Most publications are also available electronically, reducing print fees and inventory management. I don’t know all the specifics, but I’m willing to say that ITE is improving their shopping operations.
- Use LinkedIn instead of the ITE Community. Mike may have been correct five years ago on this one, but I don’t think he is anymore. The ITE Community has been a big success in my view. The ability to tap colleagues across the world for their views, detailed information, and general opinions on different situations is a great tool.
- Eliminate the hard copy of the ITE Journal. ITE still puts out the hard copy as well as the electronic copy. I don’t see an option to select electronic copy only or otherwise limit hard copies being delivered. This may be due to the advertisements within the Journal, who may want a hard copy delivered to each and every member. At our office, we would be fine with one hard for our members or fully electronically.
- Cut the cost of webinars. I can’t remember the price from several years ago, but ITE seems to have a good mix of free and $100 to $200 webinars. ITE also provides several other methods of free content if you look for it. From the ITE Journal and ITE Community to the ITE Talks Transportation and resource pages online, the value is there. It’s arguable whether our membership should provide more free webinars as part of that mix or if the price is set correctly to be able to pay the webinar instructors to maintain good content.
- Scrap the Technical Conference. The technical conference has been incorporated into the ITE Annual meeting, making a better conference for all as well as increasing attendance. I’ve attended the past two (2016 and 2017) and both have been great learning experiences. Next year’s Annual Meeting will be in Minneapolis and we hope to see you here.
- Less face-to-face meetings at the international headquarters, more skype. I’m not fully qualified to state if virtual meetings are happening or not. However, I will note that ITE has been recording meetings more and seems to be allowing remote participation in sub-committee meetings.
- Spread the ITE staff around the globe. As far as I can tell, the ITE staff all remains in Washington, DC.
- Every person on staff should have a traffic engineering or transportation planning background. This is a tricky subject, particularly as ‘traffic’ begins to refer to autonomous vehicles and other areas that were once definitely outside of our field, like computer programming. However, to remain valid (at least to our office), ITE still needs that traffic and transportation point of view and should not stray too far from our base. Realizing everything our field can encompass is a good thing, but keep the focus where it should be. To do that, at least a majority of the staff needs to have that traffic and transportation background.
- Scrap OTISS or lower the costs. The main point of this bullet was to make the trip generation data more available to members. ITE is doing that with the release of the 10th Edition, which will be electronic and filterable. This is a great step in making that data more relevant and useful to members.
Mike’s main point was that ITE needed evolve to better serve its mission and founding principles. Part of that involves using money wisely and putting those resources back into the members. Based on this updated review of Mike’s 10 Ideas, there’s a mixed bag of changes and improvements. Although not ten for ten on Mike’s thoughts, ITE is moving forward and I like the changes that have been made. I’m hopeful to see more improvements over the next five years to keep ITE current and relevant with our rapidly changing field of expertise.