Trucking Towards a Virtual World: The Development and Implementation of FMCSA’s Transportation Nation Second Life Island
The U.S. Department of Transportation continues to explore the use of Web 2.0 technologies, including the business-level application of virtual worlds for gathering organizational information, simulating program processes, and supporting new training and instructional initiatives. One such example is Transportation Nation, a Second Life based virtual island created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an Operating Administration within the Department of Transportation. FMCSA’s Transportation Nation island expertly draws upon functionality unique to virtual worlds for government application, including virtual motor carrier vehicles for simulated safety inspections, a multi-floored replica of DOT Headquarters for web-based conferencing and instruction, and consolidated access to federal and state office-based organizational information. FMCSA’s efforts to develop Transportation Nation drew on necessary contemporary techniques vital for government agencies seeking to utilize electronic government (e-government), including contract administration, resource management, and collaborative governance. FMCSA continues to explore innovative ways to utilize Transportation Nation, particularly as a smaller operating agency with a limited, safety-based budget and differentiated access to sophisticated hardware across the FMCSA workforce. The successes and ongoing challenges of utilizing Transportation Nation by FMCSA are an important model for state and federal government agencies seeking to integrate virtual worlds in their day-to-day program activities.
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