October 5th, 2018

thomas hill.jpg

Thomas Hill, State Modeling Manager for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) spoke on Friday, October 5th to EFTI Faculty, Staff, and students about the importance of Tourism and Travel in Florida. Hill holds both his Undergraduate and Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Florida State University, and is currently working on updating the Florida Statewide Passenger and Freight Model which is in charge of monitoring the planning of freight routes and processes across the state of Florida.

After discussing the Freight Model, Hill then delved a bit deeper, explaining that Hotels, Amusement Parks, Restaurants or even Bars are a major piece to Florida’s transportation routes. Hill then described that I-75, I-95, and I-4 are crucial to Florida’s economic development for these reasons. A lot of ideas and questions were brought up about the future for FDOT, and after hearing from Doctoral Student, Danielle Barbe she mentioned,

“As my research focuses on crisis communication, I thought the hurricane evacuation information was very interesting and important. Especially mentioning that they [FDOT] are developing an app that will allow them to not only communicate to those evacuating but also help them track the times that people evacuate, routes they take, etc.”

Communication is key to the overall success of any of the processes at the Florida Department of Transportation. Hill took us into an explanation of the accuracy and reality of social media – in other words, FDOT has decided that social media is not proper for measuring and forecasting travel outcomes in the state of Florida.

During the Q & A, EFTI Faculty, Staff, and Students asked Hill a variety of questions. One of the questions addressed the future of Florida’s Transportation system, mentioning the developments of Brightline rails, and though no steps have been made in this direction just yet, there seems to be a shift toward the shared economy (e.g., Uber, Lyft) and there is no telling what is to come next.