3 KPIs That States Should Adopt for Automotive Innovation

Last week, Ohio’s Governor John Kasich announced a $45 million investment in the Transportation Research Center (TRC) for connected car and driverless testing. Two weeks ago, the US DOT anointed 10 cities as test and development sites for driverless cars. Even though Ohio did not have a city on the list, the wheels are already in motion to make the investments and policy changes that are necessary to attract R&D from the major automakers. Also, Columbus, Ohio won the Smart City challenge with $150 million that will be invested in central Ohio over the next 5 years.

The wind is at our backs! Momentum is building and with the right execution, Ohio can capture a large % of the investment in automotive innovation. The result should be the creation of new and improved transportation services that will be available, first, to Ohioans. We can create repeatable programs that can be exported to other cities.

“By being one of the first — and best positioned — states to embrace autonomous and connected vehicle technology, Ohio can also be among the first to benefit from its rewards, giving Ohioans a safer, better driving experience . . .” said ODOT Director Jerry Wray November 2016

The investment going into transportation innovation, however, is small compared to the massive amounts of dollars that states already spend on roads, maintenance, and transportation infrastructure. The cities that lost the Smart City challenge are racing ahead to implement their plans. The opportunity is there, but we need to experiment and move fast. If Governor Kasich wants to scale automotive innovation in Ohio, we need to start thinking like a startup.

Startup founders know that establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is an essential part of building a scalable company. For App startups, important KPIs might be your daily active users (DAUs) or for a SaaS startup, it could be your monthly churn. For a state, the KPIs need to be measured more frequently, they need to impact all citizens, and someone needs to be held accountable for achieving them (and rewarded when we exceed them).

Self-driving cars are at the end of the road for transportation innovation. Self-driving cars are the end game, but alot has to happen before our ride just picks us up. If we don’t move past individual-owned vehicles, then the investment in self-driving cars will disproportionately benefit the affluent few that are able to afford these vehicles. Our KPIs should be focused on how we will move away from car ownership to community-focused mobility-as-a-service programs. If we think like a startup, we need KPIs that help drive the business of innovation. I wrote these for Ohio, but they will work for every state and they can even be implemented at a local level.

These are 3 KPIs that every state should adopt for transportation innovation.

TL;DR Version
#1 : % of Household Income Spent on Transportation
#2 : % of Population Utilizing Public Transportation
#3 : % of Connected Vehicles Registered

#1 — % of Household Income Spent on Transportation

Source: DOT Housing & Transportation Costs Fact Sheet

The average American family spends 19% of their household income on transportation, exceeded only by housing. Ohioans, on average, spend 17% of their earnings on transportation (2015 Report). This % remained the same between 2012 and 2015. Living where you work, eat and shop can reduce your transportation costs by as much as 10%, but that is not possible for the majority of people and cities could not support an influx or re-urbanization. By making the % of household income spent on transportation a KPI for transportation innovation, states will be accepting the challenge of reducing transportation costs for their citizens. If this is not a goal, why are we innovating?

#2 — % of Population Utilizing Public Transportation

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#3 — % of Connected Vehicles Registered

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THIS IS THE SHORT VERSION. I originally published a longer, full version of this article on medium, but it was a 9 minute read. . . So no one read it. If you want to read the full article, check it out on the AVE AutoMedia Blog.

If you are interested in highway safety statistics, check out this dashboard from the DOT where you can build your own reports. ROADWAY SAFETY DATA DASHBOARD

If you are interested in meeting other people working on Automotive Innovation, check out the monthly AutoTech CBUS events in Columbus, OH.

Geek out on some transportation stats.

Ryan McManus is the CEO and Co-Founder of AVE AutoMedia. I apologize for the gratuitous use of automotive puns.