Overcome staff reluctance to working with ITS by promoting its benefits, soliciting staff feedback, using train-the-trainer programs, and involving union representatives.

San Antonio and Indianapolis’s experiences with staffing for ITS.

December 2000
San Antonio,Texas,United States; Indianapolis,Indiana,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

An inflexible agency culture and organizational structure may lead to problems. Agency personnel may not accept new technologies or develop new ways of doing business, such as modifying the procurement process to accommodate ITS products and services. They may also have concerns about job security. Using the strategies below can help smooth the integration of ITS projects into an agency’s structure.
  • Promote the benefits of ITS. Agency management must continue to show how ITS solutions can improve both the effectiveness of the agency as well as the effectiveness of the transportation system. Staff must be shown the benefits of ITS for buy-in to be achieved.
  • Solicit and incorporate staff feedback. In San Antonio, the Ambulance Committee solicited feedback from emergency medical technicians and firefighters concerning the placement of video equipment in ambulances. VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority bus drivers were asked to provide input on the placement of cameras within buses. Operators of the traffic management center were involved in designing the upgrade and expanding the TransGuide center.
    In Indianapolis, Indiana, the Metropolitan Emergency Communications Agency (MECA) was formed to develop a regional emergency communications system. In response to elected and appointed officials’ concerns that potential users were adequately trained to use the system, agency staff successfully launched a pilot project. They installed seven mobile data terminals in cars used by the sheriff’s department. After a small number of sheriff’s deputies used the outfitted cars for a short period of time, MECA staff formally trained them. Following their training and further use of the units, these deputies wrote the user’s manual.
  • Create train-the-trainer programs to increase staff acceptance. Train-the-trainer programs not only train staff to work with new ITS technologies, but they also work to allay staff concerns about organizational change. For example, in Indianapolis, deputies who participated in the mobile data terminal pilot project were able to train their fellow deputies on the equipment, thereby contributing to the system’s acceptance and effective use.
    The training of San Antonio firefighters and emergency medical technicians on new equipment occurs through a phased program in which a small group is selected and trained and, in turn, trains others. This system works well for the San Antonio Fire Department because the units are geographically dispersed. Fire department management preferred to conduct in-house training, as outside trainers lack familiarity with personnel concerns and with San Antonio Fire Department procedures.
  • Involve union representatives at an early stage. Labor issues may also arise. Installing new technologies will definitely affect the way jobs are performed. Agency managers get concerned that union members may perceive these technologies as increasing their workloads or forcing them to change the ways they do their jobs. The perception may be that ITS will reduce the number of employees needed by an agency or within a particular job category. Project developers should invite union representatives into the ITS development process at an early stage, not only to explain the project and assuage fears, but also to receive labor’s input into the design and operation of the system.

Lesson Comments

No comments posted to date

Comment on this Lesson

To comment on this lesson, fill in the information below and click on submit. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field. Your name and email address, if provided, will not be posted, but are to contact you, if needed to clarify your comments.


What Have We Learned About ITS?

Author: Joseph Sussman, et al. (MIT)

Published By: Federal Highway Administration, U.S. DOT

Source Date: December 2000

EDL Number: 13316

Other Reference Number: Report No. FHWA-OP-01-006

URL: https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/3809

Other Lessons From this Source

Lesson Contacts

Lesson Contact(s):

Contact Name not available

Lesson Analyst:

Jane Lappin
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center


Average User Rating

0 ( ratings)

Rate this Lesson

(click stars to rate)

Application Areas

None defined




United States

Systems Engineering

Show the V

None defined

Focus Areas

None defined

Goal Areas

None defined


None defined

Lesson ID: 2005-00102