November 4, 2019

USDOT Will Address Transportation Issues in the ASCN

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is working with U.S. cities and states to test new and innovative ways to improve people's mobility and better integrate new and innovative transportation technologies. The outcome of this research and guidance can be applied to cities in ASEAN, many of which are struggling with meeting the transportation and mobility needs of their growing cities. This project will address the transportation priorities of participating ASEAN smart cities by identifying compelling solutions to urban transportation challenges being implemented by U.S. cities and using their techniques, experiences, and lessons learned to guide ASEAN partners towards implementing similarly effectively solutions within their own cities.

The primary participants will be the municipal transportation and public works officials from five selected ASEAN cities working on a priority project under their respective workstream. They will receive expertise from USDOT experts, as well as from experts from U.S. cities, state-level transportation departments and metropolitan planning organizations.  In addition, USDOT plans to develop a city twinning mechanism whereby a U.S. city with expertise in a particular subject will be connected with an ASEAN counterpart and support the relationship.

In-Depth Work

Five cities will work in one of three main themes.

  1. Developing master plans, and funding and maintaining high-quality transportation infrastructure based on U.S. standards and best practices;
  2. Integrating Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies to improve mobility and reduce congestion;
  3. Utilizing app-based technologies, including journey planning and payment solutions, to facilitate urban residents' mobility.

USDOT will develop individual implementation teams that will work intensively with their assigned city over a 12 to 20-month period. These teams will be comprised of USDOT experts, representatives from U.S. local/state-level government experts, the U.S. private sector and others as appropriate. USDOT will lead the creation of the action plan for each city and then regularly track and support the teams in their efforts including providing logistics and other assistance. Projects should result in concrete outcomes like new master plans, ITS systems and the creation of municipal transportation apps.


Cities not selected for peer-to-peer work will be invited to a USDOT-hosted workshop to be held in the region in mid-2020 focused on building the policy and planning foundations for the integration of Smart Cities technologies. Each city will be asked to send transportation officials, and the workshop will focus on developing best practices in transportation planning and the appropriate integration of advanced technologies.

At the conclusion of the workstreams, a final workshop will be held in the region to share the outcomes of the project to the other participants. The final outcomes and experiences will be documented in a report that will be shared with all ASCN participants.


Across the world, cities are struggling with defining what types of solutions and best practices will deliver on their Smart Cities goals. This has led to a broadly divergent policy and regulatory approach with some cities welcoming new entrants, others completely banning them and still others unsure of which path to take. 

For example, some cities are limiting the growth of ridesharing applications ("transport network companies") in an effort to preserve traditional taxi operators, while other cities are subsidizing rides provided by these companies to help those with limited mobility or living in rural areas reach their destinations.

Similarly, some cities are adopting urban transportation planning methods that respond to new forms of mobility, such as dockless sharable bicycles or powered scooters, whereas others are using traditional planning practices that focus on privately-owned, four-wheel passenger vehicles as the primary form of transport.


  • Fall 2019: Select cities for in-depth work-stream engagements with interagency partners; notify selectees.
  • Spring 2020: Launch initial in-country visits by U.S. expert teams to meet with Smart Cities counterparts.
  • Mid-2020: Host regional foundations workshop.
  • 2020-2021: Work with selected cities on their individual action plans. Visits by ASEAN city representatives to a select U.S. city to understand implementation of a technology and/or planning best practice, repeat visits by U.S. expert teams to the ASEAN city, and regular teleconferences and/or video conferences to track work progress.
  • Fall 2021: Final workshop sharing outcomes of all in-depth projects with all ASCN participants

At the conclusion of this program, selected cities will have an improved transportation system or process. Lessons learned from each work-stream will be shared with all the ASCN cities highlighting how other cities can implement similar projects within their own cities. A final report will be made available.


U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership: Department of Transportation Announces Webinar Series for ASEAN Cities and Stakeholders 

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, USASCP programming is largely being held virtually in 2020. As a key part of this project, USDOT will host four introductory capacity building webinars to highlight the inter-connected role of policy, planning, and technology in bringing new technology into transportation systems that serve successful Smart Cities. The final webinar will focus on procurement, financing and private sector engagement. 

These webinars will build the foundation for an in-person regional workshop (to be hosted in 2021) that will expand on the topics discussed during these introductory webinars. The webinars will address the common challenges of ASEAN cities when building Smart Cities, regardless of scale, through best practices and lessons learned. The webinar discussions will provide valuable input for the five city pairing between U.S. and ASEAN cities and metro areas addressing similar mobility challenges that form the basis of the DOT Smart Cities program.  

The dates and focus for each webinar are: 

  • 9 September 2020 – Transportation Policy as the Foundation for Smart Cities 
  • 30 September 2020 – Transportation Planning to Guide Smart Cities 
  • 21 October 2020 – Emerging Mobility Technology in Sustainable Transportation Systems 
  • 18 November 2020 – The Role of the Private Sector in Transportation Financing 

For further information please reach out to USASCP Program Manager Helen Santiago Fink ( and Roshan Desai at USDOT, 


This program is implemented by the  Office of International Transportation and Trade located in the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, and will tap experts and resources from various USDOT agencies including the Federal Transit Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Research and Technology, and Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (USDOT's "think tank" based in Cambridge, Massachusetts).

Jason Hill
Senior Advisor for Asia
Roshan Desai
International Relations Specialist