by Tamara Halbritter in Oakland Business Review
Less than two miles from the Oakland International Airport, Acumen Building Enterprise, Inc. (Acumen) is one of the businesses at the end of Pardee Lane, a quiet street abutting Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline. Acumen staff can look out the office windows of this engineering consulting firm and see a squadron of pelicans landing on the water, snowy egrets and spotted sandpipers along the shore and people bike riding or walking dogs on the trail. Inside the office, art from around the world spurs creativity and innovation. In this idyllic setting, Acumen staff come to work each day with the mission to improve transportation infrastructure and mobility throughout the world.
Since 1994, Acumen has been collaborating with local transportation agencies and governments to maintain and upgrade transportation infrastructure throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Walter E. Allen founded the organization with a green vision in mind; he initially worked toward supporting LEED building design and construction, then saw the strong connection between buildings and transportation infrastructure. Now the company focuses on transit systems integration, improving passenger experience and protecting the environment by encouraging people to use alternatives to solo-driving trips.
Over the past 25 years, Acumen has grown from a few employees to 46, working on projects throughout the nation from Hawaii to New York City and Miami, but Oakland is home. Key areas of expertise in 2020 are intelligent transportation systems (ITS), systems engineering and infrastructure management. Acumen has worked on many ITS projects, is an expert in fare collection systems and has consulted with transit agencies about fare collection standards and hardware and software development. The Acumen R&D department developed BART’s Bill-to-Bill Changer and AcuFare® 135 Smart Card Reader, which BART recently purchased for use as fare verification devices in all of its station agent booths.
Systems engineering projects have run the gamut from AcuSecure security and access control for a Kaiser Permanente medical center construction site to work on BART’s Communication-Based Train Control system as part of its Train Control Modernization Project, assisting Caltrain with implementation of Positive Train Control and replacing the Automatic Vehicle Identification System at Los Angeles International Airport. An infrastructure management project of note is the California High-Speed Rail Authority Early Train Operator project; Acumen is consulting on the design, development and procurement of the commercial aspects of high-speed rail passenger train operations.
Acumen’s CEO Walter Allen says, “Our primary focus is consulting services in the transportation space, public transit – focused on systems and working to create more public-private partnerships to save the earth. I also want to create more opportunities for people. It’s not just the dollars and cents, it’s how can I bring on more people, provide more jobs and opportunities.” Clients look to Acumen for transit system engineering expertise, systems integration, program management, project controls, procurement assistance and technical communications.