LETTER: Seattle – Bellevue Traffic Problems

To the Editor:
Traffic is definitely bad and will get worse as more people live and work here unless an alternative is provided. But, more than one alternative is possible and several will likely have to be taken—there is no single solution in sight that I see. Some options include expanding our infrastructure, using more buses, adding light rail, carpooling / van pooling, bicycling, walking, and working remotely among others.
Certainly not one of these options works for everyone, but a combination gives people choices and collectively, may begin to address the traffic mess.

Remote work (aka, telework, telecommuting, or electronic work) is a very good option for many people today as a lot of work activities, but not all, are information based, and the technology exists to make remote work easy and inexpensive. For example, electronic meeting software exists to bring together teams of people or even everyone in a small company to conduct meetings; document creation software has been around for decades and documents are incredibly easy to share using the Internet; company databases can be accessed via secure links for data processing; and so on. There are certainly barriers such as security, management and employee reluctance or resistance, or a quiet place at home and yet there are some good examples of success. For example, online schools are growing as students find they can use their laptops or tablets almost anywhere to access class materials such as lectures, books, or notes; complete assignments, post them for grading, and obtain feedback and grades without driving anywhere. The same is true for faculty and staff. Some companies have tried remote work with success and some have tried it and given up.

One the one hand, our physical infrastructure is already overwhelmed, costly to repair or expand, and takes decades. On the other hand, information technology is rapidly improving, costs are declining, and remote work has never been easier.

One last example: I know faculty who have students living all over the world (Afghanistan, England, Botswana, Nigeria, South Sudan, South Africa, and yes, even the United States. They stay in touch with electronic meeting software, email, a course management system, telephone, text messaging, and videoconferencing software. They can create lectures, exams, and other notes on their laptop and upload them for student access. Papers can be assessed, graded, and returned. Activities that might have seemed like science fiction yesterday such as having a videoconference with a student in London and another student in Australia from a laptop in an airport, coffee shop, home, hospital, hotel, or train station are just daily events.

If we keep in mind that we lead people and manage things, we find we can actually assess performance by assessing objects such as deliverables. While not everyone can work remotely, or live next to a light rail station, or carpool, there are options and if we really want to solve the traffic problem, then we best get to it and figure out that yesterday’s solutions are in fact, history.

Sincerely,

David Gould

Fauntleroy Area

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