CHAPTER 4:
RECOMMENDATIONS

RESEARCH ON TELECOMMUNICATIONS-TRANSPORTATION INTERACTIONS

The USDOE and USDOT should support research that quantifies, through statistical analysis of economic data, the impact of telecommunications spending on transportation consumption per unit of economic output. This research should be designed to verify whether the relationship is one of net substitution of telecommunications for transportation or net stimulation. Given the prevalent conventional wisdom that telecommunications is a substitute for travel, and given the Federal government's interest in promoting the National Information Infrastructure while reducing peak-period vehicle trips in many urban areas, this is a critically important determination to make.

The effects of increasing technological maturity and falling prices for greater capability should be incorporated into the research. Also, the relative energy intensity of the production and consumption of telecommunications services should be compared to the energy intensity of the production and consumption of transportation services. Input-output tables of the US economy permit measurement of the total consumption of both telecommunications and transportation.

The research could test whether reduction in energy consumption from the substitution of telecommunications for transportation is more evident in sectors facing a more competitive market structure than in sectors, like government and public education, that are less subject to such forces.

This research should use the same kind of national econometric models used in earlier research that determined that telecommunications spending causes economic growth and productivity improvement (Cronin, 1991). Use of such models provides a basis for estimating the effects of future policy choices, such as changes in the method of paying for transportation services and the effect of higher gasoline taxes. A later focus of this research should include international comparisons.

INTEGRATED RESOURCE PLANNING DEMONSTRATIONS

The USDOE should take action to initiate demonstration projects by state government planning agencies and metropolitan planning organizations that provide a transfer of proven energy planning techniques to the transportation sector. The need is to translate energy planning techniques into an integrated resource planning methodology applicable to metropolitan area surface transportation. The telecommunications applications to be considered in the IRP process should include both the private-sector teleprocesses that influence transportation demand and the government applications of telecommunications that the new transportation IRP could influence directly. Under DOE leadership, the overall goal of the IRP demonstration projects could include increasing the energy efficiency of regional economies. The IRP projects should encompass a wide range of actions (including promotion of telecommuting) to manage transportation demand as well as actions to improve the performance of transportation systems. Telecommunications is pertinent to both of these kinds of action.

The USDOE-supported methodology should include consideration of the telecommunications potential for increasing as well as reducing trips and for influencing travelers to choose high-occupancy or single-occupancy vehicular transportation modes. Demand for the transport of goods and services as well as passengers should be analyzed. Passenger transportation should include trips other than commuting trips.

Planning and implementation of transportation are local and state government responsibilities, but the federal government has a role in developing tools, disseminating them, and encouraging their use. The USDOE demonstration projects should include a requirement for reporting results and lessons learned for the use of policy makers in Washington, DC, state capitols, city halls, and county administrations. The goal of this feedback should be to inform the budget authorization and appropriation processes about the fiscal, regulatory, and institutional barriers at the local and state levels that impede implementation of IRP.

FEDERAL DATA COLLECTION

Federal data collection should encompass measurement of economic activity conducted in locations outside of traditional, fixed employment locations reached by the traditional home-to-work commute. These other locations include homes, vehicles, and variable customer locations. Many of the relevant issues are described by Pratt (1987).

Federal data collection also needs to focus on travel behavior outside of commuting, which accounts for a majority of trips, energy consumption, and emissions. Of special interest are the specific trip purposes and destinations included in "other family and personal business," the third largest and the fastest growing trip category identified in the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS).

Federal data collection should be directed toward measurement of NII usage volumes at a level of detail that would aid in understanding transportation impacts. For example, there could be better measurement of telecommunications data and video traffic across both public and private networks. Also, policy development would be aided by measurements of telecommunications usage that impacts transportation directly, such as the volume of cellular telephone calls from automobiles.

The Federal government should also take steps to measure access to and usage of telecommunications services by households, firms, and schools with the objective of collecting data that illuminate whether some groups have become excluded from basic opportunities provided by telecommunications access for earning a living, educational attainment, and civic participation.

FEDERAL SUPPORT OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

The Federal government should support policy-focused research on the social and economic consequences (including unintended ones), opportunities, and costs resulting from telecommunications-stimulated flexibility in the use of time and space. Particular transportation issues that are not well understood and that would yield to focused research include

ROBUSTNESS OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS

The Federal Communications Commission and state regulatory authorities should continue to emphasize robust telecommunications capabilities that can continue operations after major natural disasters, accidents, system malfunctions, and acts of sabotage in either telecommunications or transportation systems. Providing an alternative to disruptions in transportation is a compelling government motivation for pursuing the National Information Infrastructure as a transportation substitution.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACCESS TO SERVICE

Federal, state, and local government agencies should focus on investments in the design, development, and implementation of those teleprocesses that reengineer service delivery to meet all of the following criteria simultaneously: agency cost savings and avoidance, customer and taxpayer satisfaction, service delivery effectiveness and coverage, and reduced travel generation for both customers and employees.

Government teleprocess investments should be the focus of an accompanying research program that develops and disseminates new knowledge about critical success factors such as data security measures, preserving personal privacy, patterns of employee-employer interaction, sufficient bandwidth in the telecommunications infrastructure, and user interfaces for distributed environments.

An important source of funding for teleprocess initiatives would be redirection from budgets that cover the planning, design, development, and construction of government-owned and -supported public works infrastructure and buildings. These existing budgets are now a source of powerful momentum for older, travel-intensive modes of government operation.

HEALTH CARE POLICY

Federal health care program regulations that require office visits as a condition of payment for a physician's services should be reviewed in light of the new tele-health model that suggests that best practice is achieved when appropriate care is provided at the appropriate location. Best health care practice may now require routine use of telecommunications for remote diagnosis, consultation, or monitoring. Legal and administrative restrictions on these practices were put in place prior to the current opportunity for telecommunications-based restructuring of the health care delivery system. New protections can be designed that will provide for more flexibility in the use of telecommunications and at the same time assist the important objective of managing health care costs.

K-12 PUBLIC EDUCATION

The US Department of Labor and the US Department of Education should jointly work on public policy changes that would accelerate the financial investments needed in K-12 public education to respond to the trends identified in this report. New investments, which in some cases may require budget redirections within the present funding base, would pay for the new technology, instructional materials, and teacher preparation that allow schools to motivate and enable children to learn skills that better prepare them for a lifetime in an economy that is continually restructuring itself around the National Information Infrastructure.

These skills are outlined in the final report of the U.S. Department of Labor Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (USDOL, 1992). Footnotes in this report suggest annual investments of $300 per student for teacher training and development activities and $1000 per student, spread over a number of years, for hardware technology. This translates to investments of $774 million annually and a total of $43 billion in 1993 dollars for the nation's public schools. Additional expenditures will be necessary to keep the technology current.

CONCLUSION

Overall, these recommendations call for government leaders to shift their focus on telecommunications and travel beyond telecommuting to the much larger set of teleprocesses that are engendered by the National Information Infrastructure. The NII is changing the patterns of movement and location for both organizations and individuals in many different ways. By responding to the full scope of these changes, public policy can guide the nation toward obtaining more benefits at lower cost from the parallel growth of transportation and telecommunications.

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