The pandemic, lockdowns and economic fallout threw into stark relief the inadequacies of systems and processes worldwide. As more and more organizations look to digital tech to transform their operations, the global ITS community is also seizing the moment: capitalizing on projects underway and bringing new ideas and innovations into the spotlight. At the ITS World Congress in Hamburg this October, the real-life developments and solutions will be showcased.
“This will be one of Europe’s largest face-to-face events for quite some time,” says Lisa Boch-Andersen, Director of Communications and Events at ERTICO-ITS Europe, a public-private partnership based in Brussels and organizer of the event. “Contributions from the ITS community will be showcased in 180 technical sessions, alongside high-level plenaries and executive presentations, three regional forums, 45 demonstrations, and 20 technical visits. And for the first time this year, we will have two global forums. As usual, an innovative start-up program focused on matchmaking will form part of the program. Of course, the most important element is people – that’s what ITS is all about. Registration is open, and we hope to see you there: the World Congress is for the ITS community by the ITS community.”
A sea change in mobility policy
“Visitors to Hamburg will experience many real-life aspects of future mobility – this is a place where mobility transition is actively showcased,” says Martin Huber, Director-General Transport, Ministry of Transport and Mobility Transition, Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. “As a city, we are working to prevent climate change. We are working for mobility for people, not for cars. And we are working for safe, clean, and sustainable mobility.”
City tours will include ‘Hamburg Sets The Pace’ looking at multimodal customer-centric solutions, ‘Digitising Urban Traffic’ for connected vehicles, traffic flows and safety, the ‘Logistics Experience’ taking in port and freight, and ‘Future Rail Experience’ with “a Siemens-developed automated system that provides a blueprint for the future configuration of all German rail,” Huber says.
Integrated efforts to mitigate global challenges
“We are developing innovative transport systems in Japan as part of integrated efforts to mitigate global challenges,” says Takahiko Barada, Senior Vice President, ITS Japan. “This means working towards carbon-neutral solutions, enabling digital transformation for sustainable development, and looking at wellbeing and equity in society.” In the face of challenges and demands, including an aging population, industrial competition, global warming, and rebuilding post-COVID-19, efforts to ‘revitalize society’ are closely related to how people behave. Barada adds, “More accessible, efficient, and sustainable mobility can remove barriers and make a significant contribution to transforming our society. The more that transformation is integrated, the more that collaboration amongst diverse stakeholders is needed. We’re reaching out across different industrial sectors, jurisdictions, and academic disciplines.” The Japan Pavilion at the World Congress will reflect the breadth of these collaborations across the public and private sectors.
Working together in the HERE and now
Carsten Hurasky, Vice President – Industry Solutions at HERE Technologies and ITS World Congress Partner, agrees that collaboration and robust policymaking are the key. “HERE helps organizations to solve business problems by using location intelligence. For example, helping Cabonline, the largest taxi provider in the Nordics, to stay competitive through reduced prices based on faster ETAs. Unique routing enables them to overtake traffic and take shortcuts through city centers.”
He says changes in policies and regulations bring new opportunities to collaborate: “Nobody can solve the challenge of connecting all transport modes to achieve greener travel alone. Our work with Transport for London and Bosch is just one example of a successful collaboration.” TfL was tasked with reducing London’s environmental footprint by encouraging more people to walk, cycle and use public transport. “Traffic probe data from our marketplace is combined with data from Bosch air quality meters to understand the impact of traffic, congestion, speed and start-stop on air quality,” Hurasky says.
Bring back better: equitable, accessible, and inclusive transport
Carol Schweiger, President of Schweiger Consulting LLC, speaking on behalf of ITS America, echoes the priorities of Martin Huber and Takahiko Barada: “The challenges facing transportation in the US and worldwide can be summarised in three words: safer, greener and smarter. We need to ensure the safety and continuity of the transportation system, address environmental impacts, and ensure services are equitable, accessible, and inclusive.”
She believes ITS can and should play an integral role in post-COVID-19 economic recovery. “There is a need to rely on an improved system to ‘bring back better’ – economies can be revitalized without going back to the problems associated with pre-pandemic transportation,” Schweiger says ITS-enhanced infrastructure has already been proven to improve roadway safety and reduce pollution.
“Automation, AI, and machine learning can all contribute to improved mobility, but there may also be barriers to using ITS-enabled services for specific populations. We not only need to ensure all travelers have access to services but also consider a policy to overcome barriers. For instance, individuals who do not have smartphones, credit card or bank account.” In one example, Schweiger noted, the US Department of Transportation has created The Complete Trip – ITS4US Deployment Program, a USD 40 million multimodal effort to provide more efficient, affordable, and accessible transportation options for under-served communities.
Making it real: future mobility now
“The global ITS community is coming together in Hamburg to demonstrate that the future is now,” says Dr. Johanna Tzanidaki, Director of Innovation and Deployment, ERTICO-ITS Europe. “The community is aware we need to change the future, and we are taking action.” In addition to the pandemic, recognition of the climate emergency is helping to accelerate long-awaited changes: “Decision-makers have been discussing the dangers for years, even decades. In 2018 and 2019, transport accounted for more than one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions, most generated by road transport. The European Commission’s Green Deal set ambitious climate-neutral targets and the ITS sector has followed suit, as we will see in Special Interest Sessions at the World Congress.
“Another driver is the understanding in both the private and public sectors of the need to co-operate on policies and operations: Connected Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM) will be another important topic discussed, as well as Interactive Traffic Management – a concept ERTICO has worked on since 2014 – and making sure we are addressing the needs of cities, public authorities and citizens in mobility, rather than mobility itself setting the pace.”
Dr. Tzanidaki adds, “This World Congress comes after a difficult and very different year. We want to give people hard facts rather than promises; this is not about plans and research but about showcasing the reality of ITS innovations now. We are busy reshaping the future of mobility into a liveable, safe, and affordable world – it’s an exciting time to be part of the ITS community.”
ERTICO – ITS Europe Congress team
The ITS Congress is the biggest event focused on smart mobility and the digitalization of transport. Every year, ERTICO organizes an ITS regional or World Congress in Europe. The Congresses are the yearly celebration of smart mobility: they underline the importance of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), particularly in cities and regions where they are hosted and are important channels to raise awareness of smart mobility solutions among policymakers, experts, and the general public. They include live sessions where industry experts present the latest developments in ITS, a showcase of cutting-edge technology, and an exhibition space.