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Smart cities and highways, the connected car, and the Internet of Things are front and center for Booz Allen’s transportation and automotive work today, as is cybersecurity, a looming threat never imagined back in the days of the Studebaker.
But long before the first cars took to the primitive roads that would evolve into the beginnings of the U.S. Interstate Highway System in the 1950s, Booz Allen’s founding partner, Edwin Booz, worked in the transportation sector. One of his earliest clients was the Illinois Railroad and, soon thereafter, companies in the fledgling automotive industry.
“In the 1980s, Booz Allen studied advanced propulsion and alternative fuels including methanol, gas turbine, compressed natural gas, electric and fuel cell systems.”
In 1928, Ed Booz conducted a new automobile buyer survey for Studebaker, meticulously cataloging customer preferences related to body design and color, interior and dash layout, engine performance, driving and parking ease, and the overall impression of cars rolling off assembly lines.
In the decades—and miles—that followed, Booz Allen broke new ground in all modes of transportation.
One of the most complex assignments, Analysis and Functions of Transportation, began in 1965, recalls John Wing, who joined the firm in 1964 and led our transportation consulting business from 1981 to 1994.
“It was commissioned by the Bureau of Public Roads, which became today’s Federal Highway Administration, and involved one of the first uses of large-scale computer modeling. The computer model included all transportation modes—surface, air, and even subsurface, such as long tunnels—and considered natural phenomena like weather conditions and terrain; technical considerations such as existing infrastructure and possible propulsion systems; environmental considerations, such as pollution and disruption of the landscape; and even the political environment surrounding transportation,” John says.
Innovation and applied technology was Booz Allen’s sweet spot. Concrete was still being poured in Greater Washington for the Capital Beltway’s road deck when Booz Allen was tasked with applying advanced sensor technologies to traffic management, and designing early anti-lock braking systems. Our client for much of this work, the National Highway Safety Bureau, was the predecessor agency for NHTSA.
In the 1970s, we led key programs to develop the next generation of transit buses for the Urban Mass Transit Administration. We also evaluated vehicle prototypes for the Department of Energy’s Electric Vehicle Project, and introduced new technology into subway train control and fare-collection systems.
Booz Allen accurately predicted the rapid growth of intermodal rail-and-truck freight transportation in the 1980s. We were equally busy helping clients up in the air and on the waterways, but that’s for another story.
In the 1980s, Booz Allen studied advanced propulsion and alternative fuels including methanol, gas turbine, compressed natural gas, electric and fuel cell systems. In the ’90s, we performed assignments for the Federal Highway Administration analyzing institutional impediments to advanced traffic management and control systems. We worked extensively on Intelligent Transportation Systems, a national effort to develop and install traffic management systems featuring sensors, communications, computers, signals, and displays designed to improve traffic flow and safety.
Back to the future in 21st century transportation innovation, and “more connected means more vulnerable,” says Booz Allen Vice President Sedar Labarre. “And, the concerns stretch well beyond the vehicle. Back-end IT infrastructure, telecommunications providers, and consumers all offer points of exposure to criminals intent on hacking cars and highway signals and sensors.”
That’s why Booz Allen’s cybersecurity experts work closely with automotive industry professionals and government authorities today to take a systems view toward cyber protection for vehicles and highways.
“Automakers today need to deliver innovation in months, not model years,” says Principal Jon Allen. “There’s plenty of upside and open road for those who secure connectivity and build a relationship of trust with customers.”
So, what are you waiting for? Booz Allen will help you get into the fast lane—moving people and goods more safely, quickly, economically, and sustainably than you ever imagined.