The business of intelligent transportation -- everything from traffic and transit controls to sophisticated telematic systems for connecting EVs to the smart grid -- is a quiet but growing industry poised for a boom.
That's my takeaway from a new report that predicts the intelligent transport industry will grow from $48 billion in revenue in 2009 to $67 billion by 2015 in the U.S.
"Intelligent transportation is the largest industry you've never heard of," said Scott Belcher, president of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, during an online media briefing today.
Smart transportation -- cars, public transit, commercial trucking, traffic and the systems that help power and manage them -- is central to a concept GreenBiz Group calls VERGE. That's the intersection of vehicles, energy, buildings and information technology and its effect on the evolution of business.
In researching the report, ITSA and IHS Global Insight found that revenue for intelligent transportation outstripped that for computers and motion picture video production during the recession.
The factor is a key reason why continued growth is projected for industry. As companies and cities remain pressed by the tough economy and its faltering recovery, "we're a way to squeeze much more out of existing systems," Belcher said.
"More creative leaders, in tough financial times, look to technology as their solutions base," he said. "We're bullish on the intelligent transportation systems industry and do expect it to grow even despite the economic slowdown."
Belcher offered more reasons for the positive forecast when I asked about barriers for companies participating in the industry:
- Size doesn't matter. Most of the 3,000 companies in the industry, which employs about 183,000 in the U.S., are small to medium-sized with 500 employees or fewer.
- There's money for the taking. "There is a lot of money out there right now for companies out there trying to get into this space," Belcher said, pointing to the $37-million infusion that traffic tech firm INRIX received last month in Series D funding led by Kleiner Perkins and August Capital. Up to 10 firms will have a chance to pitch to Kleiner Perkins and Fontinalis Partners in an investment match-up event at ITSA's annual conference later this year.
- The concept isn't difficult to wrap your head around. Two years ago, Massachusetts' Department of Technology opened the books on its transit data and invited software developers to create apps that make it easier for people to use public transit. Developers flooded the department with hundreds of apps, Belcher noted.
"This is an area where I don't think there are really huge barriers to entry," he said.
Here are the some of the report's major findings:
- Market Growth: Industry revenue is expected to jump 40 percent to $73 billion in North America over the next four years, with the lion's share in the U.S.
- Job Growth: About 203,000 people work in the industry in North America. The figure is expected to grow more than 10 percent with 208,000 in the U.S. and 26,000 in Canada and Mexico by 2015.
- Jobs Pay Well: The average salary in the industry was about $75,000 a year in 2009, roughly 75 percent more than the average salary.
- Best States for Jobs: California, Texas, Virginia, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Illinois are the 10 states with the most people working in the industry. The first three states also lead projections for 2015; the other seven are in the mix in different order.
- States with Best Revenue: California, Texas, Virginia top the lists for recent and projected revenue. The others in varying order for present and future revenue are Michigan, Florida, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The report is available for free download at www.itsa.org.
Image CC licensed by Flickr user Incase.