87°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Nevada lawmakers look to keep road to smarter transportation clear

State lawmakers will look to avoid being roadblocks as Southern Nevada further drives into the future of technology.

At the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada traffic management center, the Nevada Tech Caucus took a look Monday at the latest technology being deployed on Las Vegas Valley roads.

Made up of nine Assembly members and five state senators, the caucus is dedicated to informing colleagues in the Legislature on technology issues.

The caucus was on its Southern Nevada tour, which touched on technological impacts in multiple aspects of life in Nevada, from gaming and water management to transportation.

“The practical application of technology in everyday life like traffic management, making traffic more efficient, being able to predict where accidents might occur,” said Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas and member of the caucus. “That’s ultimately going to lead to a better driving experience, as hundreds of thousands of Nevadans are on these roadways every day.”

With most technology used in transportation projects needing some form of legislation to approve it, the Legislature’s goal is not to stand in the way of potential growth, Yeager said.

“On the transportation side, we want to make sure we don’t put up any impediments or barriers to what we’ve seen, whether it’s autonomous vehicles, traffic management or anything else,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re not overly restrictive, and we’ll see where the technology goes.”

Technology demonstrated to the caucus Monday included the Keolis autonomous shuttle, Audi’s countdown to green program and Waycare, which provides smart cities with mobility products and services that are based on artificial intelligence.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Clifford Fontaine applauded the Waycare program, saying that the pairing of it with the smartphone navigation app Waze on a tablet in troopers’ vehicles has streamlined response on valley roadways.

When a call comes in and a trooper is dispatched, it will pop to the top of the screen on Waycare, where troopers can see where the incident is. It can also bring up camera views of the incident, allowing for a proper response before troopers arrive.

“This has come to great help of me personally on Interstate 15 and Sahara Avenue,” Fontaine said. “When it sounded like it was a minor crash, looking at the cameras, I could see all the lanes were crashed. So we knew before we even got there that we were going to need way more assistance.”

The NHP works with the state Department of Transportation’s Freeway Service Patrol, which also has Waycare-enabled tablets onboard its vehicles. It also works with other agencies when responding to incidents on valley freeways.

In working with legislators and the people they represent, Yeager said, one concern is the safety of the data used in technology-driven transportation programs.

“There are concerns about who owns that data, how’s it going to be protected, and (how to) make sure that it’s not going to be hacked into,” Yeager said. “That’s one of a few concerns, but our main goal is to make sure we don’t get in the way.”

Francis Julien, Keolis Las Vegas operations general manager, said that among the main reasons the company chose Las Vegas for its yearlong autonomous shuttle pilot program are the willingness of politicians to spearhead innovation and the transportation commission’s being a singular group. The pilot program ended in November, giving almost 35,000 rides on its loop in downtown Las Vegas.

“If we were to go in Los Angeles, we would have to contact 166 different agencies to be able to sync with all of the traffic light management’” Julien said. “Here, it’s just one call.”

With Gov. Steve Sisolak replacing outgoing Gov. Brian Sandoval, Yeager sees many of the same goals going forward, with a focus on diversifying the workforce. That’s something technology jobs play a big role in, he said.

“We’re a week out from the start of this legislative session, and we have 14 members here spending an entire day learning about this technology,” he said. “We want to be accessible. We want to help educate other members of the Legislature, so I think that’s one of the main goals today. The legislators here are approachable, and we’re ready and willing to hear new ideas and hopefully move the state forward.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST