How Can Our Dumb Infrastructure Accommodate Smart Cars?

Today, engineers complement V2V technologies with a broader suite of what’s called “vehicle-to-infrastructure” (V2I) transmission mechanisms, which would allow vehicles to also communicate with the physical world around them—through antennas, sensors, and cameras affixed to things like utility poles.

So the question becomes: how can we make sure that our dumb infrastructure gets smart enough in time for these technologies to roll out?

This is the problem that Brent Skorup and Korok Ray considered in their recent Mercatus Center study, called “Smart Cities, Dumb Infrastructure: Policy-Induced Competition in Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Systems.”

State and local governments are going to have to get smart about how they incentivize street furniture installation and monetization. Skorup and Ray suggest a public-private hybrid. Municipalities should tap private companies to install the equipment, with one catch: open access must be baked in, so that different applications and technologies can benefit from the same infrastructure.