Toll Insight spoke with Cathi Chinn, Vice President of Innovation at Verra Mobility.
1. What is your background and role within Verra Mobility?
I have always been moved by technology and its ability to improve life, whether it is for healthcare, education, transportation, public services, or connecting communities. Growing up in Boise, Idaho (yes, I’m a proud member of the Boise State University Alumni and the Smurf Turf), transportation opportunities were scarce. There really was no public transit. My first introduction to transportation was attaining my driver’s license at age fourteen, having to sit atop two phone books just to see over the dash of my father’s truck.
Spending over 15 years of my career dedicated to the transportation and safety industry, I have held the role of VP of Technology and Operations, COO, and CTO. I have had the opportunity to lead innovative strategies and to advance architecture and design, engineering, and implementation of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). I led the largest ITS connected commercial vehicle infrastructure deployment, for the truck safety program called PrePass.
Additionally, I led the first regional and operational deployment of Connected Vehicle and Infrastructure, leveraging 5.9/DSRC communication channels in the United States. Specifically related to tolling, I led the first-of-its-kind safety, tolling analytics, and visualization platform (a SaaS solution) for Commercial Motor Carriers.
Perfectly aligned with my desire to make a difference, I recently joined Verra Mobility’s Commercial Services business as the Vice President of Innovation. Verra Mobility focuses on making life safer, easier, and more connected for our customers and the communities we serve. As a global leader in smart transportation, we work alongside our customers and behind the scenes to relentlessly develop customized technology solutions to solve complex transportation challenges. We seamlessly connect people, technology, and data across the smart mobility ecosystem.
2. Which “pain points” does Verra Mobility solve for the Tolling Industry?
We have a global presence in more than 15 countries offering technology and services that provide fleets, suppliers, toll authorities, and the shared mobility industry (car-sharing, ride-sharing, and micro-mobility) solutions, as well as advanced data and analytics to remove burdens and help drive a more modern experience.
Relationships with our customers are what set us apart, driving innovation and delivering consistent results in our two business segments: Commercial Services and Government Solutions. Specifically, our Commercial Services customers include rental car companies, fleet management companies, and large fleet operators. Our platform enables our suite of solutions for a variety of mobility service providers. This includes toll and violation management, as well as parking (in which domain we recently acquired T2 Systems) – all this packaged in a proprietary platform without the traditional integration work. Through this white-labeled offering, the platform allows more partners to bring the value of our services, such as toll management, to their customer base by integrating it into their mobility solutions.
Our toll managed services offer a reduction in operating costs through increased access to optimal toll rates while minimizing exposure to toll violations and fees. We reduce the administrative burden through account and payment consolidation, device management and fulfillment, and driver rebilling services, which allow our customers to redirect resources and reduce costs.
In conjunction with our standard toll managed services, TollGuard™ is a toll violation elimination solution that makes it easy and affordable to protect fleet vehicles from toll violations in cashless tolling lanes. TollGuard automatically registers fleet vehicles with participating toll authorities and pays tolls incurred if the fleet’s primary tolling method fails for any reason. This saves the fleet from costly toll violations and penalties that would have been issued if the vehicle was not protected.
TollGuard is also offered through a mobile application for unique use cases such as road trips and visitors who would not be frequent users of a local toll network. The pay-as-you-go tolling service offers a simplistic solution for video tolling for a consumer while diminishing the burden of violation toll processing for agencies.
Our electronic violation processing service, VioLogics™, is an electronic violation processing service that helps fleet managers/owners maximize cost savings and minimize driver-related challenges associated with violations. VioLogics allows fleets to transfer liability directly to the driver, requesting payment from the driver for a violation, or merely sending a violation notification to the driver.
3. What does it take to establish and manage your toll service offerings, behind the scenes, on behalf of your customers?
Simply put, it takes strong and trusted relationships with our partner agencies and our valued customers, technological sophistication, and industry expertise.
A key-value point for toll-managed services is the tolling network map and successful relationships with toll authorities. We work closely with our agency partners and toll operators to find the most efficient solutions for the account, vehicle, and transaction management. Our goal is to bring value to the agencies while working through the complexities of our customers’ needs and providing operational support. Additionally, Verra Mobility ensures immediate payment to the agency, which reduces the collection burden for our agency partners.
We have an intimate knowledge of the pain points and challenges of our customer base, whether it is a rental car company or a fleet operator. With the ability to “sit in the seat” of our customers and truly understand the complexity and depth of their operation, we can customize solutions that fit their needs. Our teams are driven by our relentless pursuit of tomorrow's solutions while simultaneously solving the challenges our customers face today.
At Verra Mobility, we leverage our digital intelligence expertise to design systems that seamlessly correlate transactional information, responsible ownership, and financial liability throughout our customer base.
4. What are your impressions about the Connected Vehicles’ trends and developments? How will these impact tolling?
The Connected Vehicle (CV) brings a wealth of opportunity to the table regarding tolling and Road Usage Charging (RUC). With the combination of V2X and V2N, these vehicles can geo-locate with precision and self-identify, in lieu of a transponder type technology or LPR cameras. Additionally, these vehicles can transmit the classification of the vehicle, thereby lowering infrastructure costs and shifting the related communication costs from the agencies. Accessing a deeper level of information often referred to as “diagnostic” data, the CV can also fulfill many of the reporting requirements, making it more efficient for the consumer.
A secondary consideration is a hybrid infrastructure experience, enabling device-agnostic tolling solutions that will allow IoT/CMRS technologies to coexist with transponder or camera technology for automated vehicle identification and classification. This will be a critical need for interstate travelers, given the variations in network infrastructure. The hybrid infrastructure will also expedite the progression of implemented CV systems and infrastructure, allowing agencies to deploy at a smaller scale while learning along the way prior to mass adoption.
Of course, the challenge to unlocking these benefits is consensus on five major critical barriers: standardization, accessibility, ownership, security, adoption, and privacy.
5. How can we expect Verra Mobility to innovate and develop in the next 3-5 years?
Cities and roadways across the globe are becoming smarter and more connected. Today, car-sharing, ride-sharing, and micro-mobility modes of transportation have created new mobility options that were unimaginable even ten years ago. Views on vehicle ownership, and more importantly, traditional transportation methods are shifting as more people value time, speed, and convenience over conventional vehicle ownership. We offer technology and services that provide shared mobility solutions in a smart city environment, no matter who is driving and regardless of the vehicle.
With the expansion of toll networks, interoperability, advancements in mobile technology, the progression of shared vehicles and electric vehicles, and the emergence of CVs, the industry should expect Verra Mobility’s continual evolution and innovation and solve for new complexities, through our mobility platform. Our embedded solutions are designed to intelligently evolve to simplify and optimize the experience of multimodal transport and payment services. It is a very exciting time at Verra Mobility!
Thank you, Verra Mobility, for sponsoring Toll Insight!