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State GenAI Opportunities Target Transportation Needs

Three state departments are collaborating on the release of two opportunities for vendors, which seek ideas in applying generative artificial intelligence to solve challenges in the transportation network.

A person riding a bike crossing in front of three lines of stopped cars next to a stopped train at an intersection.
As tipped last week by Industry Insider — California, the state has indeed released the first two of five opportunities around generative artificial intelligence (GenAI).

Made available Thursday, both are presented as partnerships between the departments of General Services (DGS) and Technology (CDT), on behalf of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and both are centered on highway-related needs. The opportunities come via Request for Innovative Ideas, the “flexible approach to procurement” that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law via executive order Jan. 8, 2019, in one of his earliest acts as governor. In both cases, the opportunities are single, competitive procurements, each with two phases — the first involving an iterative process to choose an innovative and sustainable idea or ideas capable of meeting the state’s challenge; and the second involving validating ideas as working solutions. Among the takeaways:

  • The state departments seek ideas for a GenAI solution for vulnerable roadway user (VRU) safety. Per the opportunity’s problem statement, the state’s toolbox for developing infrastructure improvement initiatives lacks tools and capabilities to quickly identify possible trouble spots and characteristics that could apply to analogous locations within the transportation network. Being able to acquire precise, comprehensive, and real-time data documenting the nuances of dynamic and uncertain intersections — variables like vehicular traffic, pedestrians, cyclists, and scooter riders — could facilitate the formulation of potential safety enhancements. The problem statement is available in the opportunity’s event package on the California State Contracts Register (CSCR).
  • The state departments seek ideas for a GenAI solution for traffic mobility insights. Per the problem statement, available on the CSCR, Caltrans has a significant challenge in harnessing data effectively to generate reliable insights from traffic data, due in part to the sheer volume of traffic sensor and camera data and the variety of formats, including videos, images, log files, and third-party data streams. The department wants to integrate GenAI to process and interpret the diverse data, to improve traffic pattern analysis, address bottlenecks, and enhance overall traffic management. GenAI, it believes, could help make informed decisions, optimize infrastructure investments, and develop a resilient and sustainable transportation network. The project's primary goal is to revolutionize and simplify the implementation of Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) for improved traffic operations and strategic decision-making.
  • Separate processes for each opportunity are as follows. An online RFI2 conference via Microsoft Teams is set for 11 a.m. Thursday, per key action dates also available on the CSCR. Questions are also due Thursday. Innovation concept papers, the next step in the RFI2 process, are due by 5 p.m. Jan. 25 and will be evaluated Jan. 26-March 7, with the selected innovator(s) notified March 8. Following development of a proof of concept (POC) contract for the project’s second phase, through March 19, POC contracts are expected to be awarded March 20-28. POCs are expected to begin March 28 with no end date, and no award date for final contracts set.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.