It is always exhilarating when visionaries invite ideas that lead to important and exciting new opportunities – especially when it involves youth!

The ITS World Congress leadership team determined it was time to incorporate a formal effort that exposes the rapidly expanding world of intelligent transport systems to the up-and-coming generation that will not only use this technology, but will become the eventual developers and technical supporters of all that is ITS!  As the Chairman of the first-ever Youth Connections sub-committee, it is my pleasure to share an important element shaping the activities and experiences that will benefit the approximate 500 high school and 500 college students that will be in attendance.

The Youth Connections Showcase is being configured in ways that allow for the celebration of transportation technologies, but also for the celebration of young talent that is being primed to take the reigns and engage these new, potential career pathways.  One of the primary objectives we set for ourselves was to develop the youth components in such a way that they can transfer to all future ITS World Congress events, no matter where they will be held.  Thinking globally, we determined that four major focal points, or “pillars” would support our design and actions. Each pillar, shared below, reflects both the emerging technologies and the talent that will be interfacing with the technologies.

When visitors come to the Youth Connections Showcase in the Cobo exhibit hall, we intend to reflect Technology and Talent that is:

INNOVATIVE!  As we all watch with fascination at the new technologies coming online, we see innovation embedded in so much of what is just now being created.  Similarly, our young people will need to be skilled in innovative thinking and problem solving capabilities.  They all have those capabilities within them, but in order to ensure the future of ITS, we need to provide authentic, challenging, and intriguing experiences to the students in middle and high schools across the world.  Just reading about or watching videos about this will not unleash the innovative capacities of our youth.

CONNECTED!  At first this might seem obvious, but if you attend any meetings related to the technical aspects of the ITS development, you may notice an existing separation of platforms and devices that eventually meet and must all operate within a fully connected ecosystem. Our youth (and adults) are mostly unaware of the emerging ITS developments and opportunities.  All members of the business and industry networks need to connect young people with what is happening so that awareness levels can be escalated.  Without awareness, our youth will most likely not pursue careers to support ITS and its growth which is so vital.

MOBILE!  Every day, some new mobile devices or applications that enhance those devices appear in some form or another. As more and more automobiles, bicycles, aircraft, hand-held personal devices, and more populate our cultures and reflect a dynamic environment, the challenge to locate and link them will increase. Globally, young people will be stepping toward participating in finding solutions that impact the total population, not just those in their immediate or regional locations. These bright minds will move about the planet, seeking problems to solve no matter where they might be.

INSPIRING!  Simply the thought of saving lives, reducing potential for serious injuries, driverless cars, efficient traffic management and the enormous benefits of connectivity brings inspirational thinking to any conversation. Realising the significant, positive impact of the global ITS movement on people around the globe hints of opportunity for our next generation of experts to not only travel this planet, but to impact it. As these talented developers become leaders, they will surely inspire many as they create new devices, solve numerous problems and shift new, spectacular concepts toward applicable, brilliant solutions.

All of these pillars will undoubtedly play out if, and only if, the entire ITS community takes an active role in developing technology and talent that is Innovative, Connected, Mobile, and Inspiring!  Our Youth Connections team and the World Congress Organising Committee are ready to do our parts.  Through this new endeavor, we are fully intending to continue the rich traditions of Michigan and Detroit by identifying and creatively addressing the need to develop a community of future visionaries in transport.

For more information, visit the ITS World Congress website.