Across the United States, local communities, transportation departments, and transit, port, and turnpike authorities are seeking new and better ways to deliver on their mission-critical objectives to provide safe, efficient, and reliable transportation. They are focusing on smart, long-term investments in digital infrastructure to support the future needs of transportation.

At Cisco Live US earlier this year, we hosted an industrial IoT Transportation Leadership Summit, inviting industry leaders to discuss their plans, progress, and the roadblocks they are encountering. In the months since, we’ve continued to reflect on our conversations and are now excited to share some of the lessons learned in Las Vegas.

‘The power of the network’ was front and center for this passionate and vocal group of industry and technology professionals. They shared their successes as well as visions for reducing costs, and improving safety, supply chain, and passenger velocity. Across the board, there is a strong focus on the security posture of digital infrastructure in today’s world of ever more sophisticated and frequent cyber-attacks.

More notable highlights were captured in a panel discussion featuring a representative from each segment of the transportation industry. During this panel, one thing became very clear. Whether running a DOT, a bus fleet, a port or an airport, transportation leaders are grappling with similar challenges:

  • Tightening security as greater automation and connectivity has expanded their attack surface.
  • Increasing visibility for monitoring and managing connected devices across vast areas.
  • Supporting electrification initiatives.
  • Improving management of existing infrastructure while planning for the future of connected and autonomous vehicles powered by Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS).
  • Finding people with the right skillsets to support evolving needs.

Another common thread emerged as attendees discussed the role that global brands like Cisco play in serving their customers. The public and sustained focus on the industry that Cisco provides enables transportation leaders to build the platforms their customers need as well as highlighting the cutting-edge initiatives the industry undertakes that would otherwise go unnoticed.

One customer shared their multi-year journey running one of the United States busiest and most critical tollway corridors. The usage and revenue statistics that this transportation leader from the Northeast shared reinforced the fact that transportation provides significant opportunity. And, more importantly, it is vital to the regional and national economy. Solving problems in transportation is like ‘a rising tide that lifts all boats’.

Some shared their vision for connectivity. Others described how they are investing to enable IT and OT collaboration, and their fundamental need to have high-performance enterprise capabilities, for example in supporting a minimum of 10GB uplink bandwidth available in a ruggedized form.

In other conversations, attendees shared what they themselves had learned during the event. For example, we were told that they hadn’t previously been aware of the full scope of services like Cisco Secure Equipment Access – which can be implemented on their transit vehicles to enable Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) to in-vehicle connected equipment. They had also learnt about opportunities to partner with transportation departments on road-surface mapping using the edge computing capabilities of the Cisco Catalyst IR1800 Rugged Series Routers. One leader in particular shared how they had gained a new appreciation of the value of using Cisco end-to-end solutions – an approach that can help improve the security and reliability of their roadway infrastructure.

And we came away with some transportation trivia too, too. Use of “networking” with traffic signals – which was based on serial communications – started back in the 1970s, predating Ethernet and IP. In other words, the transportation industry was a pioneer some 50 years ago. It’s poised for even greater innovation in the years ahead, and Cisco is eager to provide the security, reliability, and visibility these organizations demand.

Learn how Cisco supports organizations in the transportation industry with Cisco Validated Design Guides:

Public Transportation

Roadways and Intersections

Ports and Terminals


Pete Kavanagh

Engineering Solution Architect

IoT Product Management Solutions