Gridsmart speaks with Adjunct Associate Professor Cordell Schachter, CTO of NYC DOT, in a new podcast.
Handling both technology and telecom as CTO of New York City DOT, Cordell Schachter has seen it all. In an effort to make travel safer for all NYC travelers, no matter their chosen mode of transportation, Cordell has helped initiate and manage efforts across the transportation board and talks with us about congestion pricing, 5G deployment, connected vehicle pilot projects and other ideas to help move the biggest city in the US.
Regina: (00:05) From GRIDSMART Technologies, I’m Regina Hopper. Welcome to POLICYSMART.
Regina: (00:18) Well hello everybody and welcome to this edition of POLICYSMART. And we are here at the ITS America, Washington DC show. And I say this on many occasions about how excited I am to have a guest, but this is, this tops it all because this is Cordell Schachter. Cordell is New York City Guru on all things IT, transportation, Internet, data, privacy, you name it. And he really seriously has been my muse for, I don’t know, four or five years now. So welcome, Cordell.
Cordell: (00:54) Well, thank you. And there’s lots of other people in New York City who know IT and transportation. So I appreciate the comp.
Regina: (01:00) Well no, but, but you do. So I want you because I really don’t do well in describing everything that you do, so please tell us what you’re doing in New York City.
Cordell: (01:09) So for New York City’s Department of Transportation, I’m their Chief Technology Officer and CIO. So it encompasses both what people know of the traditional IT role, administrative it where you get in trouble, not necessarily get complimented. It’s like you deliver the email correctly. No one says, great job today, Cordell, right? But if email doesn’t work for five minutes, then you get tons of phone calls. Right? But in exchange for having that responsibility, I also get to work with a great bunch of people throughout the agency who look for us to innovate DOTs and transportation, especially intelligent transportation in New York City, which is both a tremendous challenge but also a tremendously rewarding. And for example, the cities had for the last 10 or 12 years, it’s own private cellular network. And in that network, the most important use has been the networking of all of our traffic signals and now we’re changing that network to a totally different model using a commercial carrier but also upgrading the equipment for more functionality, including Wifi, Bluetooth for better traffic monitoring, um, and also greater cybersecurity, which everybody needs in this day and age, so having that project on our plate, we’re just finishing the contracting for that issued our LOI last week and we’ll be implementing that over the next 14 months. That’s an example of the kinds of things that we get to do.
Regina: (02:51) So you really are at the intersection of telecommunications and transportation and where those things come together. And out of that comes a whole lot of issues of privacy, data, utilization of data, acquisition of data, the entire setup of a new network, um, as things come in the city. So there are so much going on in New York City. So let’s get into it. First, one of the things that you said you really wanted to talk about was what was happening with regard to NACTO, which is the National Association of City Transportation Officials association’s new, sort of, guidelines or rules around data and privacy. And you, you mentioned to me on a New York Times piece this week on privacy. So tell us a little bit about why this is important to you, why this is important to the city of New York.
Cordell: (03:38) So first the NACTO statement called Managing Mobility Data and your listeners, if they Google that, they’ll come up with a white paper of sorts coauthored by NACTO and also a national group of trial lawyers association. Is NLAW or something?
Regina: (03:58) I think it’s the International Municipal Lawyers Association.
Cordell: (04:02) There you go.
Regina: (04:02) Right. So lawyers.
Cordell: (04:04) Yeah. And what’s great about that statement, it’s one of the first things that I’ve seen that balances responsibility between the public and the private sector for the protection of our data, our personal security and says that the transportation sector is going to be a leader in requiring that all of us, public and private sector, get from our customers genuine opt-in when they surrender private information. And that private information is only held as long as it’s actually useful for that service that you opted into. So I’ll give you two examples. One is, you take a um, a for-hire vehicle and you use your phone to order that vehicle and you tell them where you’re starting out and where you’re ending up or left.