eric-conclusions-itsglasgow16Professor Eric Sampson, Senior Adviser for the Congress Programme and inductee of this year’s ITS Hall of Fame Achievement Award, walks us through this year’s Congress theme.

It’s always a pleasure to look forward to a European ITS Congress and then when it is on enjoy the sessions, the networking, the demos, the exhibition and the general energy of the actual event. But I confess to feeling a special “buzz” regarding Strasbourg because of the overarching topic “ITS Beyond Borders”.

This sends a number of messages to me. The first is the literal one of actual borders such as those between European countries, a particularly relevant thought for Strasbourg as a city that sits on the France–Germany border. Transport recognises origins and destinations rather than the intermediate borders between countries or local jurisdictions and the different sessions during the Strasbourg Congress will show the many ways in which ITS enables seamless travel for both people and goods. There will be a sharp focus on ways to ensure interoperability of systems and continuity of services.

The second ‘borders’ message is one about different transport modes. Rail and maritime transport both have ‘borders’ as they require very fixed physical infrastructure; road too has fixed infrastructure but it allows many alternative paths from A to B. The Congress will devote many sessions to looking at successful ways in which the perceived borders between these modes can be reduced or eliminated so that travellers can move easily as and when they wish. Delegates to the Congress will find many examples right in front of them as Strasbourg is a leading exponent of this for both passengers and freight.

My third message is looking at borders in a different light because in considering transport we tend to think two-dimensional and forget the third dimension: space. We will continue with this theme under our Strasbourg topic “satellite technology applied to mobility” Today’s travellers expect their services to be always available, not just 24/7within a country but also wherever and however they travel. Satellite technologies for communications, positioning and sensing from space are now reliable and affordable enabling unbroken connectivity for both infrastructure and vehicles so we will be showing yet another way of looking at crossing borders.

My final thought is the idea of a step into the unknown – going outside the assumed border or the assumed traditional limits on an activity: “Thinking outside the box”, you might say. In designing the different Congress sessions we wanted to provide a home for ideas that do not clearly fit the published framework. Since Paris in 1994 mobile data, smartphone apps, 24/7 connectivity, the Internet of Things, digital infrastructure, innovations in automotive engineering have become a part of daily life. We are seeing radical changes in transport and mobility so we wanted to make space for new visions for ITS.

For the first time we will have a ‘Freestyle’ Topic for your unconventional ideas or innovations. You can write a provocative paper, propose a new way for Congress delegates to network, a new type of session, a different way for the Congress to interact with its host city and citizens, a demonstration or Stakeholder Workshop around a controversial subject that doesn’t fit in the other six topics.

So forget constraints and give your creativity free rein! Proposals will be judged on their “wow !” factor, their feasibility, and your explanation as to how and by whom they might be resourced and deployed.

I look forward to meeting you in Strasbourg!

Eric Sampson


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